Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Rambles by Land and Water - or Notes of Travel in Cuba and Mexico
Author: Norman, B. M.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rambles by Land and Water - or Notes of Travel in Cuba and Mexico" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



RAMBLES

[Illustration]

BY

LAND & WATER.



RAMBLES

BY

LAND AND WATER,

OR

NOTES OF TRAVEL

IN

CUBA AND MEXICO;

INCLUDING A CANOE VOYAGE UP THE RIVER PANUCO, AND RESEARCHES AMONG THE
RUINS OF TAMAULIPAS, &c.

     "He turns his craft to small advantage, Who knows not what
     to light it brings."

By B. M. NORMAN,

AUTHOR OF RAMBLES IN YUCATAN, ETC


NEW-YORK:

PUBLISHED BY PAINE & BURGESS.

NEW ORLEANS:

B. M. NORMAN.

1845.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by
PAINE & BURGESS,
in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for
the Southern District of New York.


Stereotyped by Vincent L. Dill,
128 Fulton st. Sun Building, N. Y.

C. A. Alvord, Printer; Cor. of John and Dutch sts.



PREFACE.


The present work claims no higher rank than that of a humble offering to
the Ethnological studies of our country. Some portions of the field which
it surveys, have been traversed often by others, and the objects of
interest which they present, have been observed and treated of, it may be,
with as much fidelity to truth, and in a more attractive form. Of that the
reading public will judge for itself. But there are other matters in this
work, which are now, for the first time, brought to light. And it is the
interest, deep and growing, which hangs about every thing relating to those
mysterious relics of a mysterious race, which alone emboldens the author to
venture _once more_ upon the troubled sea of literary enterprise. Had
circumstances permitted, he would have extended his researches among the
sepulchres of the past, with the hope of securing a more ample, and a more
worthy contribution to the museum of American Antiquities. He has done
what he could, under the circumstances in which he was placed. From what he
has been enabled to accomplish, alone and unaided, he hopes that others,
more capable, and better furnished with "the sinews" of travel, will be
induced to make a thorough exploration of these regions of ruined cities
and empires, and bring to light their almost boundless treasures of curious
and interesting lore. The field is immense. It is, as yet, scarcely entered
upon. No one of its boundaries is accurately ascertained. The researches
made, and the materials gathered, are yet insufficient to enable us to
solve satisfactorily the great problem of the origin of the races, that
once filled this vast region with the arts and luxuries of civilization,
and reared those mighty and magnificent structures, and fashioned those
wonderful specimens of sculptured art, which now remain, in ruins, to
perpetuate the memory of their greatness, though not of their names.

The exploration and illustration of these marvels of antiquity, belong
appropriately to American literature. They should be accomplished by
American enterprise. If not soon attempted, the honor, the pleasure, and
the profit, will assuredly fall into other hands. Enough has already been
done, to awaken a general interest and curiosity among the wonder-seeking
and world-exploring adventurers of Europe; and, if we do not speedily
follow up our small beginnings, with an efficient and thorough survey, the
Belzonis, and the Champollions of the Old World, will have anticipated our
purpose, and borne away forever the palm and the prize.

But who shall undertake the arduous achievement? Who shall be responsible
for its faithful execution? If the difficulties are too great for
individual enterprise, could it not be accomplished by a concert of action
between the numerous respectable Historical and Antiquarian Societies of
our country? What more interesting field for their united labors? Which of
them will take the hint, and set the ball in motion?

It is only required, that when it is done, it should be well done--not a
mere experiment in book-making, a catch-penny picture book, without plan,
or argument, or conclusion, leaving all the questions it proposed to
discuss and solve, more deeply involved in the mist than before--but a
substantial standard work, complete, thorough and conclusive, such as all
our libraries would be proud to possess, and posterity would be satisfied
to rely upon. There are men among us of the right kind, with the taste, the
courage, the zeal, and the skill both literary and artistic, to do the work
as it should be done. But they have not the means to go on their own
account. They must be sent duly commissioned and provided, prepared and
resolved to abide in the field, till they have traversed it in all its
length and breadth and investigated and decyphered so far as it can now be
done, every trace that remains of its ancient occupants and rulers--and the
country, and the world, will reap the advantage of their labors.

The author does not presume to flatter himself, that he has done any thing,
in his present or any other humble offering, towards the accomplishment of
such a work as the above suggestion proposes. He is fully conscious of his
incompetence to such an undertaking. His main desire, and his highest aim,
has been to present the matter in such a light, as to awaken the attention,
and stimulate the interest of those who have the means, the influence, and
the capacity to do it ample justice. And yet, he would not be true to
himself, if he did not declare, that, in the effort to secure this end, he
has used his utmost endeavor to afford, to the reader of his notes, a just
equivalent for that favorable regard, which is found in that wholesome
impulse which ought invariably and naturally to precede the perusal of any
book.

_New Orleans, October, 1845._



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I.

                                                                       PAGE
VOYAGE FROM NEW ORLEANS TO HAVANA.--DESCRIPTION
OF THE CAPITAL OF CUBA,                                                  21

Introductory remarks,                                                    21
Departure from New Orleans,                                              23
Compagnons de Voyage,                                                    24
Grumblers and grumbling,                                                 24
Arrival at Havana,                                                       25
Passports.--Harbor of Havana,                                            26
Fortifications.--Moro Castle,                                            27
The city, its houses, &c.,                                               28
An American Sailor,                                                      29
Society in Havana,                                                       30
Barriers to social intercourse,                                          31
Individual hospitality,                                                  32
Love of show,                                                            33
Neatness of the Habañeros,                                               34


CHAPTER II.

PUBLIC BUILDINGS OF HAVANA.--THE TOMB OF COLUMBUS,                       35

The Tacon Theatre,                                                       35
The Fish Market,                                                         36
The Cathedral                                                            36
Its architecture--paintings--shrines,                                    37
Decline of Romanism,                                                     38
The Tomb of Columbus,                                                    39
The Inscription,                                                         40
Reflections,                                                             40
Burial, and removal of his remains,                                      41
Ceremonies of his last burial,                                           41
Reception of remains at Havana,                                          42
The funeral procession,                                                  43
The Pantheon,                                                            43
Mr. Irving's reflections,                                                44
Plaza de Armas,                                                          44
A misplaced monument,                                                    45
Statue of Ferdinand VII.,                                                45
Regla--business done there,                                              46
Going to decay,                                                          47
Material for novelists,                                                  48


CHAPTER III.

THE SUBURBS OF HAVANA, AND THE INTERIOR OF THE
ISLAND,                                                                  49

Gardens.--Paseo de Tacon,                                                49
Guiness, an inviting resort for invalids,                                50
Scenery on the route.--Farms--hedges--orange groves,                     51
Luxuriance of the soil,                                                  52
Sugar and Coffee plantations,                                            52
Forests and birds,                                                       53
Arrival at Guiness.--The town,                                           53
Valley of Guiness,                                                       54
Buena Esperanza,                                                         54
Limonar--Madruga--Cardenas--Villa Clara,                                 55
Hints to invalids,                                                       55
Dr. Barton,                                                              56
Splendors of a tropical sky,                                             57
The Southern Cross,                                                      58


CHAPTER IV.

GENERAL VIEW OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA, ITS CITIES,
TOWNS, RESOURCES, GOVERNMENT, &C.                                        59

Political importance of Cuba,                                            59
Coveted by the nations,                                                  60
Climate and forests,                                                     61
Productions and Population,                                              62
Extent--principal cities,                                                63
Matanzas.--Cardenas,                                                     64
Principe.--Santiago                                                      65
Bayamo--Trinidad.--Espiritu Santo,                                       66
Government of Cuba,                                                      66
Don Leopold O'Donnell.--Count Villa Nueva,                               67
General Tacon, his services,                                             67
State of Cuba when appointed governor,                                   68
Change affected by his administration,                                   69
His retirement,                                                          70
Commerce of Cuba with the United States,                                 70
Our causes of complaint,                                                 71
The true interests of Cuba,                                              71
State of education,                                                      72
Low condition of the people,                                             73
Discovery of Cuba,                                                       73
Early History.--Velasquez.--Narvaez,                                     74
Story of the Cacique Hatuey,                                             75
The island depopulated,                                                  76
Rapidly colonized by Spaniards,                                          77
Seven cities founded in four years,                                      77
Havana removed.--The Gibraltar of America,                               77
Possibility of a successful attack,                                      78


CHAPTER V.

DEPARTURE FROM HAVANA.--THE GULF OF MEXICO.--ARRIVAL
AT VERA CRUZ,                                                            79

The British mail steamer Dee,                                            79
Running down the coast,                                                  80
Beautiful scenery--associations,                                         81
Discoveries of Columbus.--The island groups,                             82
The shores of the continent,                                             83
The Columbian sea,                                                       84
The common lot of genius,                                                85
Sufferings of the great.--Cervantes,--Hylander, &c.,                     86
Associations, historical and romantic,                                   87
Shores of the Columbian sea,                                             88
Wonderful changes wrought by time,                                       89
Peculiar characteristics of this sea,                                    90
Arrival at Vera Cruz.--Peak of Orizaba                                   90
Castle of St. Juan de Ulloa,                                             91
The harbor and the city                                                  92
Best view from the water--houses--churches,                              93
Suburbs--population,                                                     94
Health--early history,                                                   95
The old and new towns of Vera Cruz,                                      96


CHAPTER VI.

SANTA ANNA DE TAMAULIPAS AND ITS VICINITY,                               97

The old and new towns of Tampico,                                        97
The French Hotel,                                                        98
Early history of Tampico.--Grijalva,                                     98
Situation of the new town--health,                                       99
Commerce of the place--smuggling,                                       100
Foreign letters--mails,                                                 101
Buildings--wages--rents--tone of morals,                                102
Gambling almost universal,                                              103
The army.--The Cargadores,                                              104
The Market Place--monument to Santa Anna,                               105
A national dilemma,                                                     106
"The Bluff"--Pueblo Viejo,                                              107
Visit to Pueblo Viejo,                                                  108
Its desolate appearance.--"La Fuente,"                                  109
Return at sunset.--Beautiful scenery,                                   110
The Rancheros of Mexico,                                                110
The Arrieros,                                                           111
A home comparison,                                                      111


CHAPTER VII.

CANOE VOYAGE UP THE RIVER PANUCO.--RAMBLES AMONG
THE RUINS OF ANCIENT CITIES,                                            113

An independent mode of travelling,                                      113
The river Panuco--its luxuriant banks,                                  114
A Yankee Brick Yard,                                                    115
Indians--their position in society,                                     116
An Indian man and woman,                                                117
Topila Creek.--"The Lady's Room,"                                       118
Fellow lodgers,                                                         119
An aged Indian,                                                         120
Ancient ruins--site of an aboriginal town,                              121
Rancho de las Piedras                                                   122
The Topila hills--mounds,                                               122
An ancient well,                                                        123
A wild fig tree--mounds,                                                124
An incident--civil bandoleros,                                          125


CHAPTER VIII.

FURTHER EXPLORATIONS OR THE RUINS IN THE VICINITY
OF THE RANCHO DE LAS PIEDRAS,                                           127

Situation of the ruins,                                                 127
Discoveries--a female head                                              128
Description--transportation to New York,                                129
Colossal head,                                                          130
The American Sphinx,                                                    132
Conjectures,                                                            134
Curiously ornamented head,                                              136
A mythological suggestion,                                              137
Deserted by my Indian allies,                                           138
A thrilling adventure,                                                  139
The escape,                                                             140
A road side view,                                                       140


CHAPTER IX.

VISIT TO THE ANCIENT TOWN OF PANUCO.--RUINS,
CURIOUS RELICS FOUND THERE,                                             141

Route along the banks of the river,                                     141
Scenery--rare and curious trees,                                        142
Panuco and its inhabitants,                                             143
Language--antiquarian researches--Mr. Gallatin,                         144
Extensive ruins in the vicinity of Panuco,                              145
Sepulchral effigy,                                                      145
Custom of the ancient Americans.--A conjecture,                         147
An inference, and a conclusion,                                         148
Ruins on every side--Cerro Chacuaco, &c.                                149
A pair of vases,                                                        150


CHAPTER X.

DISCOVERY OF TALISMANIC PENATES.--RETURN BY NIGHT TO TAMPICO,           151

Two curious ugly looking images,                                        151
Speculations,                                                           152
Humbugs,                                                                153
The blending of idolatries,                                             154
Far-fetched theories,                                                   155
Similarity in forms of worship evidence of a common origin,             156
Ugliness deified--Ugnee--Gan--Miroku,                                   157
The problem settled,                                                    158
The Chinese--Tartars--Japanese,                                         159
Return to the "Lady's Room,"                                            160
Travelling by night--arrival at Tampico,                                161
Rumor of war--attitude of the French,                                   161
Mexicans check-mated,                                                   162
Backing out,                                                            163
Dii Penates,                                                            164


CHAPTER XI.

EXCURSION ON THE TAMISSEE RIVER.--CHAPOTÉ, ITS APPEARANCE
IN THE LAKES AND THE GULF OF MEXICO,                                    165

Once more in a canoe,                                                   165
The Tamissee--its fertile banks,                                        166
Wages of labor--a promising speculation,                                167
The Banyan.--The Royal Palm,                                            168
Extensive ruins.--Mounds on Carmelote creek,                            169
A Yankee house.--The native Mexicans,                                   170
The chapoté in the lakes of Mexico,                                     171
The chapoté in the gulf of Mexico,                                      172
New Theory of the Gulf Stream,                                          172
Comparative temperature of the Gulf Stream and the Ocean,               174
Objections to this new Theory,                                          175
Another Theory, not a new one,                                          177
Tampico in mourning,                                                    178


CHAPTER XII.

GENERAL VIEW OF MEXICO, PAST AND PRESENT.--SKETCH
OF THE CAREER OF SANTA ANNA.                                            179

Ancient Mexico--its extent--its capital,                                180
Its imperial government--its sovereigns,                                181
Its ancient glory.--The last of a series of monarchies,                 182
Extent and antiquity of its ruins,                                      183
Present condition of Mexico,                                            184
Population--government--transfer of power,                              185
The Revolution--Iturbide,                                               186
Internal commotions--Factions,                                          187
Santa Anna, his origin and success                                      188
Victoria.--Santa Anna in retirement,                                    189
Pedraza,--Santa Anna in arms again,                                     189
Guerrero--Barradas defeated by Santa Anna,                              190
Bustamente President.--Pedraza again,                                   190
Santa Anna President.--Taken prisoner at San Jacinto,                   191
Returns to Mexico, and goes into retirement,                            191
In favor again.--Dictator--President,                                   192
Paredes--Herrera--Santa Anna banished,                                  193
Literature in Mexico--Veytia--Clavigero,                                194
Antonio Gama,--The inflated character of the Press,                     195
Preparing to depart--annoyances,                                        196
Detained by illness,--Kindness of the American Consul,                  197
Departure--at home,                                                     198


CHAPTER XIII.

THE TWO AMERICAN RIDDLES,                                               199

Baron Humboldt's caution,                                               199
Enigmas of the Old World but recently solved,                           200
The two extremes of theorists,                                          201
A medium course,                                                        202
Previous opinions of the author confirmed,                              203
Absence of tradition respecting American buildings,                     203
Nature and importance of tradition,                                     204
The Aztecs an imaginative people,                                       205
Supposed effect of the conquest upon them,                              206
The Aztecs not the only builders,--The Toltecs                          207
Extensive remains of Toltec architecture,--A dilemma,                   208
Character and condition of these ruins,                                 208
Evidently erected in different ages,                                    209
Origin of the builders--sceptical philosophies,                         210
The solitary tradition,                                                 211
Imaginary difficulties--tropical animals,                               212
A new Giant's Causeway,                                                 212
The Aborigines were not one, but many races,                            213
No head of the American type found among their sculptural remains,      213
Art an imitation of nature--copies only from life,                      214
Inference from the absence of the Indian type,                          214
American ruins of Asiatic origin,                                       215
Migratory habits of the early races of men,                             215
Overflowings of the populous north,                                     215
Conclusion,                                                             216



LIST OF EMBELLISHMENTS.


                                                             PAGE.
VIGNETTE TITLE PAGE.

MORO CASTLE, HAVANA.                                            27

PEAK OF ORIZABA.                                                90

CASTLE OF SAN JUAN DE ULLOA, VERA CRUZ.                         91

INDIAN MAN AND WOMAN.                                          117

FEMALE HEAD.                                                   128

COLOSSAL HEAD.                                                 130

THE AMERICAN SPHINX.                                           132

CURIOUSLY ORNAMENTED HEAD.                                     136

A SITUATION.                                                   139

A ROAD SIDE.                                                   140

SEPULCHRAL EFFIGY.                                             145

A PAIR OF VASES.                                               150

TRAVELLING BY NIGHT.                                           161

TALISMANIC PENATES.                                            164

FRAGMENTS OF IDOLS.                                            178



RAMBLES BY LAND AND WATER.



CHAPTER I.

VOYAGE FROM NEW ORLEANS TO HAVANA. DESCRIPTION OF THE CAPITAL OF CUBA.

     Introductory remarks.--Departure from New
     Orleans.--Compagnons de voyage.--Their different
     objects.--Grumblers and grumbling.--Arrival at
     Havana.--Passports.--The Harbor.--The Fortifications.--The
     City.--Its streets and houses.--Anecdote of a
     sailor.--Society in Cuba.--The nobility.--"Sugar
     noblemen."--Different grades of Society.--Effects upon the
     stranger.--Charitable judgment invoked.--Hospitality of
     individuals.--General love of titles and show.--Festival
     celebration.--Neatness of the Habañeros.


Who, in these days of easy adventure, does not make a voyage, encounter the
perils of the boisterous ocean, gaze with rapture upon its illimitable
expanse, make verses upon its deep, unfathomable blue--if perchance the
Muse condescends to bear him company--plant his foot on a foreign shore,
scrutinize the various objects which are there presented to his view,
moralize upon them all, contemplate nations in their past, present and
future existence, swell with wonder at the largeness of his
comprehension--and return, if haply he may, to his native land, to pour
into the listening ears of friends and countrymen, the tale of his ups and
downs, his philosophic gatherings, with undisguised complacency? Whose
history does not present a chapter analogous to this? We might almost write
one universal epitaph, and apply it to every individual who has flourished
in the present century.--"He lived, travelled, wrote a book, and died."

And, seeing that in this auspicious age, when the public mind is alive

    "To every peril, pain and dread of woe,
    That _genius_ condescends to undergo--"

when it seems disposed to appreciate the toil of intellectual effort, by
the deference which it pays, the obedience it yields, and the signal
support which it gives, to the meritorious productions of the historian,
the statesman and the scholar; when we behold the power of discrimination
so strikingly developed in the fact, that men are infinitely more regaled
with the simple, truthful narrative, than with the ponderous tome of
fictitious events, however pleasing the fabrication is made to
appear;--who, it may be asked, I care not whether he has washed his hands
in the clouds, while tossed upon the summit of a troubled wave, or looked
out upon the world, from Alps highest peak, or whether he has leaned over
the side of an humble canoe, to disturb the tranquil waters of some placid
stream, above the bosom of which, his modest aspirations will never suffer
him to rise,--who that has _travelled_, it matters not _how_, can do
otherwise than exclaim, "Oh that my words were now written--Oh that they
were printed in a book!"

Though not disposed to allow that no higher sentiment than this prevalent
_cacoethes scribendi_ has influenced me in the present attempt, I am,
nevertheless, so thoroughly convinced of its epidemic prevalence at the
present time, that I am resolved neither to wonder nor complain, if friends
as well as foes, "gentle readers" as well as carping critics, should set it
down as only and unquestionably a symptom. I shall retain my own opinion,
however, albeit I do not express it; and, contenting, nay congratulating
myself with being in good company, shall complacently set out upon another
"ramble," and sit down to another book, whenever

    "the stars propitious shine,"

or health, or business, drives me away from my quiet pursuits at home.

It is no slight gratification, it must be allowed, to be enabled, by so
feeble an effort, to make all one's friends, as well as a portion of the
great world unknown, _compagnons de voyage_ in all our rambles--to bring
them into such a magnetic communication with our souls, that they shall at
once see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and enjoy, without the toil
and weariness of travel, all that is worthy of remembrance and record, in
our various adventures by sea and land.

On the 20th of January, 1844, in company with sixty fellow passengers, I
turned my back upon the crescent city, and embarked on board the Steam Ship
Alabama, Captain Windle, bound from Now Orleans to Havana. Many of our
number, like myself, were in pursuit of health and pleasure, some were
braving the dangers and enduring the privations of the passage, for the
purpose of amassing wealth in the sugar and coffee trade; and others were
seeking, what they probably will never find this side the grave, a happier
home than the one they were leaving behind them.

With a variety of humors, but for the most part with light hearts, we
committed ourselves to the mercy of a kind Providence, a capricious
element, and a competent and gentlemanly captain; and, setting aside such
regrets as the sensitive mind cannot but indulge, in bidding adieu to the
land of its birth, the companions of youth, and the faithful friends of
after years, to visit distant and dangerous regions, to invite disease and
brave death in many forms, we were probably as happy and merry a company as
ever pursued their trackless path over the bounding deep. Our ship and its
regulations were unexceptionable, our table was sumptuously spread, and the
weather, all that the most fastidious invalid could desire.

To the above description of our company, I ought, perhaps, to make an
exception in favor of a few professional grumblers from our fatherland.
"Those John Bulls" of our company, ceased not their murmurings and
repinings, until the recollection of imaginary wrongs, was swallowed up in
the experience of real and substantial suffering, in the land of their
glorious anticipations. But we must not marvel at, or find fault with, the
redeeming trait of British character. It has long been universally admitted
that John Bull is a grumbler. Whether it is a "streak in the blood," a
universal family characteristic, or a matter of national education, I know
not; but it certainly belongs to the species, as truly and distinctively as
a light heart and a gay deportment do, to their neighbors on the other side
of the channel. It matters not whether you speak of the King or the Queen,
the Royal Patronage or the doings of Parliament, of England, or France, or
the moon, he is always ready with a loud and argumentative complaint, drawn
from his own experience. If you sympathize with him, well; if not, his
indifference to your regard will certainly match your stoicism. Talk to him
about Church affairs; and, in all probability, he will find a "true bill"
against every Ecclesiastical officer, from his Grace down to the humblest
subordinate. Still, if it be a redeeming trait, why should we not respect
it as such? True, it does not sound well, to hear one speak in terms of
approbation respecting a _grumbler_. But surely, it must be simply because
we are not accustomed to view this character in its proper light. A popular
English writer observes, that "it is probably this harsh and stubborn but
honest propensity, which forms the bulwark of British grandeur abroad, and
of British freedom at home. In short, it is this, _more than any thing
else_, which has contributed to make, and still contributes to keep England
what it is." No--it will never answer to make war upon a character like
that of Bull. We may occasionally introduce him to the reader, but it shall
be with a just appreciation of his _imprint_, and a profound regard for his
material substance.

After sixty hours delightful sail, we passed the celebrated castle of the
Moro, and entered the harbor of Havana. Contrary to our expectations, we
were permitted to land with but little delay or inconvenience, except that
which arose from "Elnorte," or a dry norther, which was blowing when we
arrived, and rendered our landing a little uncomfortable. The thermometer
stood at 70°, and the "_natives_" were shivering under the severity of the
cold!

The traveller, visiting this Island, should furnish himself with a
passport, issued or verified by the Spanish Consul, at the port from which
he embarks. When furnished with this ihdispensable credential, if he pay a
strict regard to the laws of the island, little difficulty is to be
apprehended; but, neglecting this, he will be subject to fines and the most
vexatious delays; and, probably, he will be prevented from landing.
Strangers proceeding into the interior, for a period not exceeding four
months, must also be prepared with a license from the Governor to that
effect, countersigned by the Consul of the nation to which he belongs. This
requisition is undoubtedly made upon the unsuspecting traveller, in
consequence of impositions practiced by foreigners, during the recent
difficulties which have taken place in Cuba. Thus will undisguising honesty
ever suffer in the faults of a common humanity.

The harbor of Havana is one of the best in the world. The entrance into it
is by a narrow channel, admitting only one vessel at a time, while its
capacious basin within, is capable of containing more than a thousand
ships. The view of the harbor, as you approach it from without, with its
forest of masts, and the antique looking buildings and towers of the city,
contrasting powerfully with the luxuriant verdure of the hills in the
back-ground, is scarcely second to any in the world, in panoramic beauty
and effect; while the view sea-ward, after you enter the sheltered bay, the
waters of the Gulf Stream lashing the very posts of the narrow gateway by
which you came in, presents one of those bold and striking contrasts, which
the eye can take in, and the mind appreciate, but which no pencil can
pourtray, no pen describe.

[Illustration: MORO CASTLE.]

The celebrated Moro, resting upon its craggy eminence, frowns over the
narrow inlet. The Cabañas crowning every summit of the hills opposite the
city, is a continuous range of fortifications of great extent, from whose
outer parapet, elevated at least a hundred and fifty feet above the level
of the sea, a most commanding view of the city and its beautiful environs
is obtained. These fortifications are said to have cost forty millions of
dollars. Within a mile on the opposite shore from the Moro, is still
another fortress, so situated upon a considerable height, that its
batteries could easily sweep the whole space between. Looking down from
these frowning battlements upon the busy scene below, I was struck with the
variety of flags, from almost every nation under heaven, blending their
various hues and curious devices, amid the thick forest of masts that lay
at my feet. But of all the gay and flaunting streamers that waved proudly
in the morning breeze, the stripes and stars, the ensign of freedom, the
pride of my own green forest land, appeared always most conspicuous.

The city of Havana stands on a plain, on the west side of the harbor, but
is gradually, with its continually increasing population, stretching itself
up into the bosom of the beautifully verdant hills by which it is
surrounded. Its general appearance is that of a provincial capital of
Spain. There is an air of antiquity about this, and the cities of Mexico,
which has no similitude in the United States. The streets, which are
straight and at right angles to each other, are McAdamized, and, in good
weather, are remarkably clean; but, during the rainy season, they become
almost impassable. They are also very narrow, and without any side walks
for the foot passenger. The houses, many of which are one story high, with
flat roofs, have a general air of neatness, and comfort. They are usually
either white or yellow washed. Many of them are of the old Moorish style of
architecture, dark and sombre, as the ages to which it traces back its
origin. The doors and windows reach from the ceiling to the floor, and
would give an airy and agreeable aspect to the buildings, were it not for
their massive walls, and the iron gratings to the windows, which remind one
too strongly of the prison's gloom. It is here, however, that the females
enjoy the luxury of the air, and display their charms. They are never seen
walking in the streets. Those who cannot afford the expense of a _volante_,
arraying themselves with the same care as they would for a promenade, or a
party, may be seen daily peering through their grated windows upon the
passers by, and holding familiar conversation with their friends and
acquaintances in the streets. Many a bright lustrous eye, and fairy-like
foot, have I thus seen through the wires of her cheerful cage, which were
scarcely ever seen beyond it.

A characteristic anecdote is related of an American sailor, who saw several
ladies looking out upon the street, through their grated parlor windows.
Supposing them to be prisoners, and sympathizing with their forlorn
condition, he told them to keep up a good heart,--and then, after observing
that he had been in limbo himself, he threw them a dollar, to the great
amusement of the spectators, who understood the position of the inmates.

But notwithstanding the gloomy appearance of the windows, the houses are
well ventilated by interior courts, which permit a free circulation of
air,--a commodity which is very desirable in these latitudes. The floors
are of flat stone or brick, the walls stuccoed or painted,--and the
traveller, judging from the external appearance, is led to imagine that
within, every desirable accommodation may be obtained. In this, however, he
is disappointed, and must content himself with some privations. Huge
door-ways and windows, a spacious saloon, together with solidity of
construction, are the chief objects to which the architect in this country
seems to direct his attention. The main entrance answers the purpose of a
coach-house; and it is no uncommon thing to see the _volantes_ occupying a
very considerable portion of the parlor. The amount demanded for rent, in
proportion to similar accommodations in other cities, is exorbitant. The
present population of the city and its suburbs, is about 185,000.

Society in Havana,--and it is the same throughout the island--is a singular
anomaly to the stranger. It is neither that of the city, nor that of the
country alone--neither national, oecumenical, nor provincial, nor a mixture
of all. There are three distinct classes of what may be termed respectable
society--the Spanish, the creole, and the foreigner. Among the former, with
here and there an individual of the second grade, there are some who have
purchased titles of nobility, at prices varying from thirty to fifty
thousand dollars. They are often distinguished by the ludicrous sobriquet
of "sugar noblemen," most of them having acquired their titles from the
proceeds of their sugar plantations. Besides these, there are some few who
have obtained the coveted distinction, as a reward for military services.
Though more honorably obtained, the title is of less value to such, as they
rarely have the means to support the style, which usually accompanies the
rank. There are some sixty or seventy persons in the island, thus
distinguished, who cannot, as a matter of course, condescend to associate
in common, with the untitled grades below them. Neither do they maintain
any social relations among themselves. The proud Spaniard despises the
creole, and, titled or plebeian, will have nothing to do with him, beyond
the necessary courtesies of business. Then the "nobleman," who has worn his
dearly bought honors _twenty years_, esteems it quite beneath his dignity
to exchange civilities with those _novi homines_, who are but ten years
removed from the vulgar atmosphere of common life;--while he, in his turn,
is quite too green to stand on a par with those, whose ancestors, for two
or three generations back, have been known to fame.

The same impassable distinctions exist among the plebeian grades of
society. The Spaniard hates the foreign resident, and will have no
intercourse with him, except so far as his interest, in the ordinary
transactions of business, requires. He despises the creole, who, in his
turn, hates the Spaniard, and is jealous of the foreigner. The result of
this position of these antagonist elements of society is, that there is no
such thing as general social intercourse among the inhabitants of Cuba, and
scarcely any chance at all for the stranger, to be introduced to any
society but that of the foreign residents. As these are from almost all
nations, the range, for any particular one, is necessarily small.

This being the case, with the constitution of society in Cuba, it would be
extremely difficult for a temporary sojourner correctly to delineate the
character of its inhabitants, perhaps, even unfair to attempt it. He can
never see them, as they see each other. He can rarely learn, from his
personal observation, any thing of society, as a whole, though he may often
have favorable opportunities of becoming favorably acquainted with
individual families. And here, two remarks seem to me to be demanded,
before leaving this subject. First, that in all cases where such marked
distinctions, and deeply rooted jealousies exist between the different
sections of society, the open slanders and covert insinuations of the one
against the other, should be received with the most liberal allowances for
prejudice. Envy and contempt are, by their very natures, evil-eyed,
uncharitable, and arrant liars. They see through a distorted medium. They
judge with one ear always closed. And he who receives their decisions as
law will generally abuse his own common sense and good nature, by
condemning the innocent unheard. Secondly, if the society which Cuba might
enjoy may be judged of by the known urbanity and hospitality of
individuals, it might become, by the breaking down of these artificial
barriers, the very paradise of patriarchal life. I know of nothing in the
world to compare with the free, open-handed, whole-souled hospitality which
the merchant, or planter, of whatever grade, lavishes upon those, who are
commended to his regard by a respectable introduction from abroad. With
such a passport, he is no longer a stranger, but a brother, and it is the
fault of his own heart if he is not as much at home in the family, and on
the estate of his friend, as if it were his own. There is nothing forced,
nothing constrained in all this. It is evidently natural, hearty, and
sincere, and you cannot partake of it, without feeling, however modest you
may be, that you are conferring, rather than receiving a favor. This remark
may be applied, with almost equal force, to many of the planters in our
Southern states, and in the other West India Islands. Many and many are the
invalid wanderers from home, who have known and felt it, like gleams of
sunshine in their weary pilgrimage, whose hearts will gratefully respond to
all that I have said. What a pity then, that such noble elements should
always remain in antagonism to each other, instead of amalgamating into one
harmonious confraternity, mutually blessing and being blessed, in all the
sweet humanizing interchanges of social life.

Much as the inferior grades of society envy and dislike those above them,
they all display the same love of show, the same passion for titles,
trappings, and badges of honor, whether civil or military, whenever they
come within their reach. And when attained, either temporarily or
permanently, their fortunate possessors do not fail to look down on those
beneath them, with the same supercilious pride and self gratulation, which
they so recently condemned in others. I saw some striking, and to me,
exceedingly ludicrous developments of this trait of character, during the
progress of a festival celebration, in honor of the day, when queen Isabel
was declared of age, and all the military and civil powers swore allegiance
to her Catholic Majesty. The ceremonies of this celebration were continued
through three days. The Plaza, and the quarters of the military, were
splendidly illuminated with variegated lamps, and the buildings, public and
private, were hung with tapestry and paintings, interspersed with small
brilliant lights. Business was entirely suspended, and the streets were
thronged with gay excited multitudes, arrayed with every species of finery,
and decked with every ornament of distinction, which their circumstances,
or position in society, would allow. Reviews of troops, and sham fights on
land and sea, in which the Governor, and all the high dignitaries of the
island, took part, occupied a portion of the time, the remainder being
filled up with balls, masquerades, and a round of other amusements.

I do not know that it has been remarked by any other writer, but I observed
it so often as to satisfy myself that it was a general characteristic of
the better classes of the Habañeros, that they have a singular antipathy to
water. After a shower of rain, they are seldom seen in the streets, except
in their _volantes_, till they have had time to become perfectly dry. When
necessity compels them to appear, they walk with the peculiar
circumspection of a cat, picking their way with a care and timidity that
often seems highly ludicrous. They are neat and cleanly in their persons,
almost to a fault, and it is the fear of contracting the slightest soil
upon their dress, that induces this scrupulous nicety in "taking heed to
their steps."



CHAPTER II.

PUBLIC BUILDINGS OF HAVANA, AND THE TOMB OF COLUMBUS.

     The Tacon Theatre.--The Fish Market.--Its Proprietor.--The
     Cathedral.--Its adornments.--View of Romanism.--Infidelity.--The
     Tomb of Columbus.--The Inscription.--Reflections suggested by
     it.--The Removal of his Remains.--Mr. Irving's eloquent
     reflections.--A misplaced Monument.--Plaza de Armas.



Among the public buildings in Havana, there are many worthy of a particular
description. Passing over the Governor's House, the Intendencia, the
Lunatic Asylum, Hospitals, etc., to which I had not time to give a personal
inspection, I shall notice only the Tacon Theatre, the Fish Market, and the
Cathedral.

The Tacon Theatre is a splendid edifice, and is said to be capable of
containing four or five thousand spectators. It has even been stated, that,
at the recent masquerade ball given there, no less than seven thousand were
assembled within its walls. This building was erected by an individual, at
an expense of two hundred thousand dollars. It contains three tiers of
boxes, two galleries, and a pit, besides saloons, coffee-rooms, offices,
etc., etc. A trellis of gilded iron, by which the boxes are balustraded,
imparts to the house an unusually gay and airy appearance. The pit is
arranged with seats resembling arm-chairs, neatly covered, and comfortably
cushioned. The Habañeros are a theatre-going people, and bestow a liberal
patronage upon any company that is worthy of it.

The Fish Market is an object of no little interest in Havana, not only for
the rich variety of beautiful fishes that usually decorate its long marble
table, but for the place itself, and its history. It was built during the
administration of Tacon, by a Mr. Marti, who, for a service rendered the
government, in detecting a gang of smugglers, with whom it has been
suspected he was too well acquainted, was permitted to monopolize the sale
of fish in the city for twenty years. Having the prices at his own control,
he has made an exceedingly profitable business of it, and is now one of the
rich men of the island. He is the sole proprietor of the Tacon Theatre,
which is one of the largest in the world, and which has also the privilege
of a twenty years monopoly, without competition from any rival
establishment.

The Fish Market is one hundred and fifty feet in length, with one marble
table extending from end to end, the roof supported by a series of arches,
resting upon plain pillars. It is open on one side to the street, and on
the other to the harbor. It is consequently well ventilated and airy. It is
the neatest and most inviting establishment of the kind that I have ever
seen in any country; and no person should visit Havana, without paying his
respects to it.

The Cathedral is a massive building, constructed in the ecclesiastical
style of the fifteenth century. It is situated in the oldest and least
populous part of the city, near the Fish Market, and toward the entrance of
the port. It is a gloomy, heavy looking pile, with little pretensions to
architectural taste and beauty, in its exterior, though the interior is
considered very beautiful. It is built of the common coral rock of that
neighborhood, which is soft and easily worked, when first quarried, but
becomes hard by exposure to the atmosphere. It is of a yellowish white
color, and somewhat smooth when laid up, but assumes in time a dark, dingy
hue, and undergoes a slight disintegration on its surface, which gives it
the appearance of premature age and decay.

In the interior, two ranges of massive columns support the ceiling, which
is high, and decorated with many colors in arabesque, with figures in
fresco. The sides are filled, as is usual in Roman Catholic churches, with
the shrines of various Saints, among which, that of St. Christoval, the
patron of the city, is conspicuous. The paintings are numerous; and some of
them, the works of no ungifted pencils, are well worthy of a second look.

The shrines display less of gilding and glitter than is usual in other
places. They are all of one style of architecture, simple and unpretending;
and the effect of the whole is decidedly pleasing, if not imposing. This
effect is somewhat heightened by the dim, uncertain light which pervades
the building. The windows are small and high up towards the ceiling, and
cannot admit the broad glare of day, to disturb the solemn and gloomy
grandeur of the place of prayer.

It has been observed by residents as well as by strangers, that the
attendance on the masses and other ceremonies of the Roman church, has
greatly diminished within a few late years. I have often seen nearly as
many officiating priests, as worshippers, at matins and vespers. They are
attended, as in all other places, chiefly by women, and not, as the
romances of the olden time would have us suppose it once was, by the young,
the beautiful, the warm-hearted and enthusiastic, but by the old and ugly,
so that a looker-on might be led to imagine that the holy place was only a
_dernier resort_, and refuge for those, for whom the world had lost its
charms. That there were some exceptions, however, to this remark, my memory
and my heart must bear witness--some, whose graceful, voluptuous figures,
bent down before their shrines, their beaming faces and keen black eyes
scarce hidden by their mantillas, might have furnished a more stoical heart
than mine with a very plausible excuse for paying homage to them, rather
than to the saints, before whose shrines they were kneeling.

In the various religious orders of this church, there has been a
corresponding diminution of numbers and zeal. The convents of friars, in
Havana, have been much reduced, and but few young men are found, who are
disposed to join them; so that, in another generation, they may become
quite extinct, unless their numbers are replenished from the mother
country. The Government has taken possession of their buildings, and
converted them to other uses, and pensioned off their inmates, allowing a
premium to those who would quit the monastic life, and engage in secular
business.

Among the people, infidelity seems to have taken the place of the old
superstition. Their holy-days are still kept up, because they love the
excitement and revelry, to which they have been accustomed. Their frequent
recurrence is a great annoyance to those who have business at the Custom
House, and other public offices, while they add nothing to the religious or
moral aspect of the place. Sunday is distinguished from the other days of
the week, only by the increase of revelry, cock-fighting, gambling, and
every other species of unholy employment. These are certainly no
improvement upon the customs of other days, for blind superstition is
better than profaneness, and ignorance than open vice. But, in one respect,
the protestant sojourner in Havana may feel and acknowledge that times have
changed for the better, since he is not liable now, as formerly, to be
knocked down in the street, or imprisoned, for refusing to kneel in the
dirt, when "the host" was passing.

In this Cathedral, on the right side of the great altar, is "The Tomb of
Columbus." A small recess made in the wall to receive the bones, is covered
with a marble tablet about three feet in length. Upon the face of this is
sculptured, in bold relief, the portrait of the great discoverer, with his
right hand resting upon a globe. Under the portrait, various naval
implements are represented, with the following inscription in Spanish.

    ¡O Restos é Imagen del grande Colon!
    Mil siglos durad guardados en la Orna,
    Y en la remembranza de nuestra Nacion.

On the left side of the high Altar, opposite the tomb, hangs a small
painting, representing a number of priests performing some religious
ceremony. It is very indifferent as a work of art, but possesses a peculiar
value and interest, as having been the constant cabin companion of
Columbus, in all his eventful voyages, a fact which is recorded in an
inscription on a brass plate, attached to the picture.

The Lines on the tablet may be thus translated into English.

    O Remains and Image of the great Columbus!
    A thousand ages may you endure, guarded in this Urn;
    And in the remembrance of our Nation.

Such is the sentiment inscribed on the last resting place of the ashes of
the discoverer of a world. An inscription worthy of its place, bating the
arrogance and selfishness of the last line, which would claim for a single
nation, that which belongs as a common inheritance to the world. It is a
pardonable assumption however; for, where is the nation, under the face of
heaven, that would not, if it could, monopolize the glory of such a name?

The glory of a name! Alas! that those who win, are so seldom allowed to
wear it! Through toil and struggle, through poverty and want, through
crushing care and heart-rending disappointments, through seas of fire and
blood, and perhaps through unrelenting persecution, contumely and reproach,
they climb to some proud pinnacle, from which even the ingratitude and
injustice of a heartless world cannot bring them down; and there, alone,
deserted and pointed at, like an eagle entangled in his mountain eyrie,
amid the screams and hootings of inferior birds, they die,--bequeathing
their greatness to the world, leaving upon the generation around them a
debt of unacknowledged obligation, which after ages and distant and unborn
nations, shall contend for the honor of assuming forever. The glory of a
name! What a miserable requital for the cruel neglect and iron injustice,
which repaid the years of suffering and self-sacrifice, by which it was
earned!

Columbus died at Valladolid, on the 20th of May, 1506, aged 70 years. His
body was deposited in the convent of St. Francisco, and his funeral
obsequies were celebrated with great pomp, in the parochial church of Santa
Maria de la Antigua. In 1513, his remains were removed to Seville, and
deposited, with those of his son, and successor, Don Diego, in the chapel
of Santo Christo, belonging to the Carthusian Monastery of Las Cuevas. In
1536, the bodies of Columbus and his son were both removed to the island of
Hispaniola, which had been the centre and seat of his vice-royal government
in this western world, and interred in the principal chapel of the
Cathedral of the city of San Domingo. But even here, they did not rest in
quiet. By the treaty of peace in 1795, Hispaniola, with other Spanish
possessions in these waters, passed into the hands of France. With a
feeling highly honorable to the nation, and to those who conducted the
negotiations, the Spanish officers requested and obtained leave to
translate the ashes of the illustrious hero to Cuba.

The ceremonies of this last burial were exceedingly magnificent and
imposing, such as have rarely been rendered to the dust of the proudest
monarchs on earth, immediately after their decease, and much less after a
lapse of almost three centuries. On the arrival of the San Lorenzo in the
harbor of Havana, on the 15th of January, 1796, the whole population
assembled to do honor to the occasion, the ecclesiastical, civil, and
military bodies vying with each other in showing respect to the sacred
relics. On the 19th, every thing being in readiness for their reception, a
procession of boats and barges, three abreast, all habited in mourning,
with muffled oars, moved solemnly and silently from the ship to the mole.
The barge occupying the centre of these lines, bore a coffin, covered with
a pall of black velvet, ornamented with fringes and tassels of gold, and
guarded by a company of marines in mourning. It was brought on shore by the
captains of the vessels, and delivered to the authorities. Conveyed to the
Plaza de Armas, in solemn procession, it was placed in an ebony
sarcophagus, made in the form of a throne, elaborately carved and gilded.
This was supported on a high bier, richly covered with black velvet,
forty-two wax candles burning around it.

In this position, the coffin was opened in the presence of the Governor,
the Captain General, and the Commander of the royal marines. A leaden
chest, a foot and a half square, by one foot in height, was found within.
On opening this chest, a small piece of bone and a quantity of dust were
seen, which was all that remained of the great Columbus. These were
formally, and with great solemnity pronounced to be the remains of the
"_incomparable Almirante Christoval Colon_." All was then carefully closed
up, and replaced in the ebony sarcophagus.

A procession was then formed to the Cathedral, in which all the pomp and
circumstance of a military parade, and the solemn and imposing grandeur of
the ecclesiastical ceremonial, were beautifully and harmoniously blended
with the more simple, but not less heartfelt demonstrations of the civic
multitude--the air waving and glittering with banners of every device, and
trembling with vollies of musketry, and the ever returning minute guns from
the forts, and the armed vessels in the harbor. The pall bearers were all
the chief men of the island, who, by turns, for a few moments at a time,
held the golden tassels of the sarcophagus.

Arrived at the Cathedral, which was hung in black, and carpeted throughout,
while the massive columns were decorated with banners infolded with black,
the sarcophagus was placed on a stand, under a splendid Ionic pantheon,
forty feet high by fourteen square, erected under the dome of the church,
for the temporary reception of these remains. The architecture and
decorations of this miniature temple, were rich and beautiful in the
extreme. Sixteen white columns, four on each side, supported a splendidly
friezed architrave and cornice, above which, on each side, was a
frontispiece, with passages in the life of Columbus figured in bas-relief.
Above this, rising out of the dome of the pantheon, was a beautiful
obelisk. The pedestal was ornamented with a crown of laurels, and two olive
branches. On the lower part of the obelisk were emblazoned the arms of
Columbus, accompanied by Time, with his hands tied behind him--Death,
prostrate--and Fame, proclaiming the hero immortal in defiance of Death
and Time. Other emblematic figures occupied the arches of the dome.

The pantheon, and the whole Cathedral, was literally a-blaze with the light
of wax tapers, several hundred of which were so disposed as to give the
best effect to the imposing spectacle. The solemn service of the dead was
chanted, mass was celebrated, and a funeral oration pronounced. Then, as
the last responses, and the pealing anthem, resounded through the lofty
arches of the Cathedral, the coffin was removed from the Pantheon, and
borne by the Field Marshal, the Intendente, and other distinguished
functionaries, to its destined resting place in the wall, and the cavity
closed by the marble slab, which I have already described.

"When we read," says the eloquent Mr. Irving, "of the remains of Columbus,
thus conveyed from the port of St. Domingo, after an interval of nearly
three hundred years, as sacred national reliques, with civic and military
pomp, and high religious ceremonial; the most dignified and illustrious men
striving who should most pay them reverence; we cannot but reflect, that it
was from this very port he was carried off, loaded with ignominious chains,
blasted apparently in fame and fortune, and followed by the revilings of
the rabble. Such honors, it is true, are nothing to the dead, nor can they
atone to the heart, now dust and ashes, for all the wrongs and sorrows it
may have suffered: but they speak volumes of comfort to the illustrious,
yet slandered and persecuted living, showing them how true merit outlives
all calumny, and receives it glorious reward in the admiration of after
ages."

Near the Quay, in front of the Plaza de Armas, is a plain ecclesiastical
structure, in which the imposing ceremony of the mass is occasionally
celebrated. It is intended to commemorate the landing of the great
discoverer, and the inscription upon a tablet in the front of the building,
conveys the impression that it was erected on the very spot where he first
set foot upon the soil of Cuba. This, however, is an error. Columbus
touched the shore of Cuba, at a point which he named Santa Catalina, a few
miles west of Neuvitas del Principe, and some three hundred miles east of
Havana. He proceeded along the coast, westward, about a hundred miles, to
the Laguna de Moron, and then returned. He subsequently explored all the
southern coast of the island, from its eastern extremity to the Bay of
Cortes, within fifty miles of Cape Antonio, its western terminus. Had he
continued his voyage a day or two longer, he would doubtless have reached
Havana, compassed the island, and discovered the northern continent.

The Plaza de Armas is beautifully ornamented with trees and fountains. It
is also adorned with a colossal statue of Ferdinand VII.; and during the
evenings, when the scene is much enlivened by the fine music of the
military bands stationed in the vicinity, it is the general resort of
citizens and strangers;--the former of whom come hither to enjoy the
cheering melody of the music and the freshness of the breeze,--the latter,
for the purpose of doing homage to the memory of him whose footsteps are
supposed to have sanctified the ground. Here, and around the sepulchre of
the departed, a holy reverence seems to linger, which attracts the visitor
as to "pilgrim shrines," before which he bends with respect and
admiration.

The village of Regla, one of the suburbs of Havana, is situated on the
eastern side of the harbor, about a mile from the city, and having constant
communication with it, by means of a ferry. It is a place of about six
thousand inhabitants, and is the great depot of the molasses trade. Immense
tanks are provided to receive the molasses, as it comes in from the
neighboring estates. I say the _neighboring_ estates, for the article is of
so little value, that it will not pay the expense of transportation from
any considerable distance; and very large quantities of it are annually
thrown away. In some places you may see the ditches by the road side filled
with it. In others, the liquid is given to any who will take it away,
though in doing so, they are expected to pay something more than its real
value for the hogshead.

The greater part of the molasses that comes to Regla from the interior, to
supply the export trade of Havana, is brought in five gallon kegs, on the
backs of the mules, one on each side, after the manner of saddle-bags, or
panniers. A common mule load is four or six kegs, equal to half, or
two-thirds of a barrel. Large quantities are also transported in lighters
from all the smaller towns on the coast, much of it coming in that way from
a distance of more than a hundred miles. A large proportion of the article
shipped from this port hitherto, having been unfit for ordinary domestic
uses, and suitable only for the distillery, the trade in it has been
greatly diminished by the operation of the mighty Temperance reform, which
has blessed so large a portion of our favored land. I have not the means at
hand to show the precise results; but will venture to assert, from
personal observation and knowledge of the matter, that the exports of this
article from Cuba to this country, for distilling purposes, have fallen off
more than one half in the last ten years.

The concentration of this once active and lucrative traffic at Regla, gave
it, in former times, the aspect of a busy, thriving place. Now, it looks
deserted and poor. It was formerly one of the many resorts of the pirates,
robbers, and smugglers, who infested all the avenues to the capital, and
carried on their business as a regular branch of trade, under the very
walls of the city, and in full view of the custom-house and the castle.
Thanks to the energetic administration of Tacon, they have no authorized
rendezvous in Cuba now. Regla is consequently deserted. Its streets are as
quiet as the green lanes of the country. Its houses are many of them going
to decay. Its theatre is in ruins, and the spacious octagonal amphitheatre,
once the arena for bull-fighting, the favorite spectacle of the Spaniards,
both in Spain and in the provinces, and much resorted to from all quarters
in the palmy days of piracy and intemperance, is now in a miserably
dilapidated condition; affording the clearest proof of the immoral nature
and tendency of the sport, by revealing the character of those who alone
can sustain it. Tacon and temperance have ruined Regla.

The only amusement one can now find in Regla, is in listening to the wild
and frightful stories of the robbers and robberies of other days. It is
scarcely possible to conceive that scenes such as are there described, as
of daily, or rather nightly occurrence, could have taken place in a spot
now so quiet and secure, and without any of those dark, mysterious lurking
places, which the imagination so easily conjures up, as essential to the
successful prosecution of the profession of an organized band of outlaws.
The system set in operation by Tacon, is still maintained; and mounted
guards are nightly seen scouring the deserted and comparatively quiet
avenues, offering an arm of defence to the solitary and timid traveller,
and a caution to the evil-disposed, that the stern eye of the law is upon
them. Volumes of entertaining history, for those who have the taste to be
entertained by the marvellous and horrible, might be written on this spot.
And I respectfully recommend a pilgrimage to it, and a careful study of its
scenery and topography, to those young novelists and magazine writers, who
delight to revel in carnage, and blood, and treachery.



CHAPTER III.

THE SUBURBS OF HAVANA, AND THE INTERIOR OF THE ISLAND.

     The Gardens.--The Paseo de Tacon.--Guiness an inviting
     resort.--Scenery on the route.--Farms.--Hedges of Lime and
     Aloe.--Orange Groves.--Pines.--Luxuriance of the
     Soil.--Coffee and Sugar Plantations.--Forests.--Flowers and
     Birds.--The end of the Road.--Description of Guiness.--The
     Hotel.--The Church.--The Valley of Guiness.--Beautiful
     Scenery.--Other Resorts for Invalids.--Buena Esperanza.--The
     route to it.--Limonar.--Madruga.--Cardenas, etc.--Cuba the
     winter resort of Invalids.--Remarks of an intelligent
     Physician.--Pulmonary Cases.--Tribute to Dr. Barton.--The
     clearness of the Moon.--The beauties of a Southern Sky.--The
     Southern Cross.


The neighborhood of Havana abounds with pleasant rides, and delightful
resorts, in which the invalid may find the sweetest and most delicious
repose, as well as invigorating recreation; while the man of cultivated
taste, and the devout worshipper of nature, may revel in a paradise of
delights. Among the many attractive localities, in the immediate vicinity
of the city, the gardens of the Governor and the Bishop are pre-eminent.

Outside the city wall is the "Paseo de Tacon," which is a general resort,
not only for equestrians and pedestrians, but also for visitors in their
cumbrous _volantes_. The stranger will find himself richly rewarded on a
visit to this frequented resort. It consists of three ways: the central,
and widest, for carriages; and the two lateral, which are shaded by rows of
trees and provided with stone seats, for foot passengers. It presents a
lively and picturesque scene, crowded as it is with people of all classes,
neatly, if not elegantly dressed.

A delightful excursion to Guiness occupies but four or five hours by
rail-road. It is much frequented by invalids, as an escape from the
monotonous routine of city life, and presents many advantages for the
restoration of health, and the gratification of rural tastes and pursuits.
Surrounded by luxurious groves of orange and other fruit trees,--by coffee
and sugar plantations,--in full view of the table lands, proximating
towards the mountains, and enjoying from November till May, a climate
unequalled perhaps by any other on the face of the globe; the fortunate
visitor cannot but feel that, if earth produces happiness in any of its
charmed haunts, "the heart that is humble might hope for it here;" and the
invalid, forgetting the object of his pursuit, might linger forever around
its rich groves and shady walks. During three months of the year, the
thermometer ranges about 80° at sunrise, seldom varying more than from 70°
to 88°. Nearer the coast, there is more liability to fever.

In the trip to Guiness, we did not fly over the ground as we often do on
some of the rail-roads of our own country, the rate seldom exceeding
fifteen miles an hour. And it would be more loss than gain to the
passengers to go faster. The country is too beautiful, too rich in
verdure, too luxuriant in fruits and flowers, and too picturesque in
landscape scenery, to be hurried over at a breath. Passing the suburbs of
the city, and the splendid gardens of Tacon, the road breaks out into the
beautiful open country, threading its arrowy way through the rich
plantations and thriving farms, whose vegetable treasures of every
description can scarcely be paralleled on the face of the earth. The farms
which supply the markets of the city with their daily abundance of
necessaries and luxuries, occupy the foreground of this lovely picture.
They are separated from each other, sometimes by hedges of the fragrant
white flowering lime, or the stiff prim-looking aloe, (_agave americana_,)
armed on every side with pointed lances, and lifting their tall flowering
stems, like grenadier sentinels with their bristling bayonets, in close
array, full twenty feet into the air. Those who have not visited the
tropics, can scarcely conceive the luxuriant and gigantic growth of their
vegetable productions. These hedges, once planted, form as impenetrable a
barrier as a wall of adamant, or a Macedonian phalanx; and wo to the
unmailed adventurer, who should attempt to scale or storm those self-armed
and impregnable defences.

Within these natural walls, clustered in the golden profusion of that
favored clime, are often seen extensive groves of orange and pine apple,
whose perennial verdure is ever relieved and blended with the fragrant
blossom--loading the air with its perfume, till the sense almost aches with
its sweetness--and the luscious fruit, chasing each other in unfading
beauty and inexhaustible fecundity, through an unbroken round of summers,
that know neither spring time, nor decay. There is nothing in nature more
enchantingly wonderful to the eye than this perpetual blending of flower
and fruit, of summer and harvest, of budding brilliant youth, full of hope
and promise and gaiety, and mature ripe manhood, laden with the golden
treasures of hopes realized, and promises fulfilled. How rich must be the
resources of the soil, that can sustain, without exhaustion, this lavish
and unceasing expenditure of its nutritious elements! How vigorous and
thrifty the vegetation, that never falters nor grows old, under this
incessant and prodigal demand upon its vital energies!

It is so with all the varied products of those ardent climes. Crop follows
crop, and harvest succeeds harvest, in uninterrupted cycles of prolific
beauty and abundance. The craving wants, the grasping avarice of man alone
exceeds the unbounded liberality of nature's free gifts.

The coffee and sugar plantations, chequering the beautiful valleys, and
stretching far up into the bosom of the verdant hills, are equally
picturesque and beautiful with the farms we have just passed. They are,
indeed, farms on a more extended scale, limited to one species of lucrative
culture. The geometrical regularity of the fields, laid out in uniform
squares, though not in itself beautiful to the eye, is not disagreeable as
a variety, set off as it is by the luxuriant growth and verdure of the
cane, and diversified with clumps of pines and oranges, or colonnades of
towering palms. The low and evenly trimmed coffee plants, set in close and
regular columns, with avenues of mangoes, palms, oranges, or pines, leading
back to the cool and shady mansion of the proprietor, surrounded with its
village of thatched huts laid out in a perfect square, and buried in
overshadowing trees, form a complete picture of oriental wealth and luxury,
with its painful but inseparable contrast of slavery and wretchedness.

The gorgeous tints of many of the forest flowers, and the yet more gorgeous
plumage of the birds, that fill the groves sometimes with melody delightful
to the ear, and sometimes with notes of harshest discord, fill the eye with
a continual sense of wonder and delight. Here the glaring scarlet flamingo,
drawn up as in battle array on the plain, and there the gaudy parrot,
glittering in every variety of brilliant hue, like a gay bouquet of
clustered flowers amid the trees, or the delicate, irised, spirit-like
humming birds, flitting, like animated flowerets from blossom to blossom,
and coqueting with the fairest and sweetest, as if rose-hearts were only
made to furnish honey-dew for their dainty taste--what can exceed the fairy
splendor of such a scene!

But roads will have an end, especially when every rod of the way is replete
with all that can gratify the eye, and regale the sense, of the traveller.
The forty-five miles of travel that take you to Guiness, traversing about
four-fifths of the breadth of the island, appear, to one unaccustomed to a
ride through such garden-like scenery, quite too short and too easily
accomplished; and you arrive at the terminus, while you are yet dreaming of
the midway station, looking back, rather than forward, and lingering in
unsatisfied delight among the fields and groves that have skirted the way.

San Julian de los Guiness is a village of about twenty-five hundred
inhabitants, and one of the pleasantest in the interior of the Island. It
is a place of considerable resort for invalids, and has many advantages
over the more exposed places near the northern shore. The houses in the
village are neat and comfortable. The hotel is one of the best in the
island. The church is large, built in the form of a cross, with a square
tower painted blue. Its architecture is rude, and as unattractive as the
fanciful color of its tower.

The valley, or rather the plain of Guiness, is a rich and well watered
bottom, shut in on three sides by mountain walls, and extending between
them quite down to the sea, a distance of nearly twenty miles. It is,
perhaps, the richest district in the island, and in the highest state of
cultivation. It is sprinkled all over with cattle and vegetable farms, and
coffee and sugar estates, of immense value, whose otherwise monotonous
surface is beautifully relieved by clusters, groves, and avenues of stately
palms, and flowering oranges, mangoes and pines, giving to the whole the
aspect of a highly cultivated garden.

I have dwelt longer upon the description of Guiness, and the route to it,
because it will serve, as it respects the scenery, and the general face of
the country, as a pattern for several other routes; the choice of which is
open to the stranger, in quest of health, or a temporary refuge from the
business and bustle of the city.

One of these is Buena Esperanza, the coffee estate of Dr. Finlay, near
Alquizar, and about forty miles from Havana. One half of this distance is
reached in about two hours, in the cars. The remainder is performed in
_volantes_, passing through the pleasant villages of Bejucal, San Antonio,
and Alquizar, and embracing a view of some of the most beautiful portions
of Cuba. Limonar, a small village, embosomed in a lovely valley, a few
miles from Matanzas--Madruga, with its sulphur springs, four leagues from
Guiness--Cardenas--Villa Clara--San Diego--and many other equally beautiful
and interesting places, will claim the attention, and divide the choice of
the traveller.

An intelligent writer remarks that, "with the constantly increasing
facilities for moving from one part of this island to the other, the
extension and improvement of the houses of entertainment in the vicinity of
Havana, and the gaiety and bustle of the city itself during the winter
months, great inducements are held out to visit this 'queen of the
Antilles;' and perhaps the time is not far distant, when Havana may become
the winter _Saratoga_ of the numerous travellers from the United States, in
search either of health or recreation." He then proceeds to suggest, what
must be obvious to any reflecting and observing mind, that those whose
cases are really critical and doubtful, should always remain at home, where
attendance and comforts can be procured, which money cannot purchase. To
leave home and friends in the last stages of a lingering consumption, for
example, and hope to renew, in a foreign clime and among strangers, the
exhausted energies of a system, whose foundations have been sapped, and its
vital functions destroyed, is but little better than madness. In such
cases, the change of climate rarely does the patient any good, and
particularly if accompanied with the usual advice--to "use the fruits
freely." Those, however, who are but slightly affected, who require no
extra attention and nursing, but simply the benefit a favorable climate,
co-operating with their own prudence in diet and exercise, and who are
willing to abide by the advice of an intelligent physician on the spot, may
visit Cuba with confidence, nay, with positive assurance, that a complete
cure will be effected. This is the easiest, and, in most cases, the
cheapest course that can be pursued, in the earlier stages of bronchial
affections.

As a lover of my species, and particularly of my countrymen, so many of
whom have occasion to resort to blander climates, to guard against the
insidious inroads of consumption, I cannot leave this subject, without
making use of my privilege, as a writer, to say a word of an eminent
physician, residing in Havana, who enjoys an exalted and deserved
reputation in the treatment of pulmonary diseases. I refer to Dr. Barton, a
gentleman whose name is dear, not only to the many patients, whom, under
providence, he has restored from the verge of the grave, but to as numerous
a circle of devoted friends, as the most ambitious affection could desire.
His skill as a physician is not the only quality, that renders him
peculiarly fitted to occupy the station, where providence has placed him.
His kindness of heart, his urbanity of manners, his soothing attentions,
his quick perception of those thousand nameless delicacies, which, in the
relation of physician and patient, more than any other on earth, are
continually occuring, give him a pre-eminent claim to the confidence and
regard of all who are brought within the sphere of his professional
influence. To the stranger, visiting a foreign clime in quest of health,
far from home and friends, this is peculiarly important. And to all such, I
can say with the fullest confidence, they will find in him all that they
could desire in the most affectionate father, or the most devoted brother.

In the interior of the island, I observed that the moon displays a far
greater radiance than in higher latitudes. To such a degree is this true,
that reading by its light was discovered to be quite practicable; and, in
its absence, the brilliancy of the Milky Way, and the planet Venus, which
glitters with so effulgent a beam as to cast a shade from surrounding
objects, supply, to a considerable extent, the want of it. These effects
are undoubtedly produced by the clearness of the atmosphere, and, perhaps,
somewhat increased by the altitude. The same peculiarities have been
observed, in an inferior degree, upon the higher ranges of the Alleghany
mountains, and in many other elevated situations, where, far above the dust
and mists of the lower world, celestial objects are seen with a clearer
eye, as well as through a more transparent medium.

In this region, the traveller from the north is also at liberty to gaze, as
it were, upon an unknown firmament, contemplating stars that he has never
before been permitted to see. The scattered Nebulæ in the vast expanse
above--the grouping of stars of the first magnitude, and the opening of new
constellations to the view, invest with a peculiar interest the first view
of the southern sky. The great Humboldt observed it with deep emotion, and
described it, as one appropriately affected by its novel beauty. Other
voyagers have done the same, till the impression has become almost
universal, among those who have not "crossed the line," that the southern
constellations are, in themselves, more brilliant, and more beautifully
grouped, than those of the northern hemisphere. In prose and poetry alike,
this illusion has been often sanctioned by the testimony of great names.
But it is an illusion still, to be accounted for only by the natural effect
of _novelty_ upon a sensitive mind, and an ardent imagination. The denizen
of the south is equally affected by the superior wonders of the northern
sky, and expatiates with poetic rapture upon the glories which, having
become familiar to our eyes, are less admired than they should be.

If any exception should be made to the above remarks, it should be only
with reference to the Southern Cross, which, regarded with a somewhat
superstitious veneration by the inhabitants of these beautiful regions, as
an emblem of their faith, is seen in all its glory, shedding its soft, rich
light upon the rolling spheres, elevating the thoughts and affections of
the heart, and leading the soul far beyond those brilliant orbs of the
material heavens, to the contemplation of that "Hope, which we have as an
anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."

It would be an easy task to enlarge upon the wonders of the sky, but how
shall man describe the works of HIM "who maketh Arcturus, Orion, Pleiades,
and _the Chambers of the South_?"



CHAPTER IV.

GENERAL VIEW OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA, ITS CITIES, TOWNS, RESOURCES,
GOVERNMENT, ETC.

     Its political importance.--Coveted by the Nations.--National
     Robbery and Injustice.--Climate of Cuba.--Its Forests and
     Fruits.--Its great staples, Sugar and Coffee.--Copper
     mines.--Population.--Extent and surface.--Principal
     cities.--Matanzas.--Cardenas.--Puerto del
     Principe.--Santiago de Cuba.--Bayamo.--Trinidad de
     Cuba.--Espiritu Santo.--Government of the Island.--Count
     Villa Nueva.--Character and Services of Tacon.--Commerce of
     Cuba.--Relations to the United States.--Our causes of
     complaint.--The true interests of Cuba.--State of
     Education.--Discovery and early history of the Island.


Cuba is the largest, richest, most flourishing, and most important of the
West India Islands. In a political point of view, its importance cannot be
rated too high. Its geographical position, its immense resources, the
peculiar situation, impregnable strength, and capacious harbor of its
capital, give to it the complete command of the whole Gulf of Mexico, to
which it is the key. It is certainly an anomaly in the political history of
the world, that so weak a power as that of Spain, should be allowed to hold
so important a post, by the all-grasping, ambitious thrones of Europe--to
say nothing of the United States, where decided symptoms of relationship to
old England begin to appear. It has often been found easy, where no just
cause of quarrel exists, to make one; and it is a matter of marvel that the
same profound wisdom and far-reaching benevolence, that found means to
justify an aggressive war upon China, because, in the simplicity of her
semi-barbarism, she would not consent to have the untold millions of her
children drugged to death with English opium--cannot now make slavery, or
the slave trade, or piracy, or something else of the kind, a divinely
sanctioned apology for pouncing upon Cuba. That she has long coveted it,
and often laid plots to secure it, there is no doubt. That it would be the
richest jewel in her crown, and help greatly to lessen the enormous burdens
under which her tax-ridden population is groaning, there can be no
question. But, the science of politics is deep and full of mysteries. It
has many problems which even time cannot solve.

And then, as to these United States--how conveniently might Cuba be
annexed! How nicely it would hook on to the spoon-bill of Florida, and
protect the passage to our southern metropolis, and the trade of the Gulf.
We can claim it by an excellent logic, on the ground that it was once bound
closely to Florida, the celebrated de Soto being governor of both; and
Spain had no more right to separate them, in the sale and cession of
Florida, than she or her provinces had, afterwards, to separate Texas from
Louisiana. It is a good principle in national politics, to take an ell
where an inch is given, especially when the giver is too weak to resist
the encroachment--and it has been so often practised upon, that there is
scarcely a nation on earth that can consistently gainsay it. The annexation
fever is up now, and I suggest the propriety of taking all we intend to, or
all we want, at a sweep--lest the people should grow conscientious, and
conclude to respect the rights of their weaker neighbors.

But, to be serious, let us take warning from the past, and learn to be
just, and moderate, in order that we may be prosperous and happy. The
epitaph of more than one of the republics of antiquity, might be written
thus--_ruit sua mole_.

Much as has been said, and that with great justice and propriety, of the
delightful climate of Cuba, it is subject to no inconsiderable changes, and
the invalid, who resorts thither in quest of health, must be on his guard
against those changes. The "wet northers," that sometimes sweep down upon
the coast, are often quite too severe for a delicate constitution to bear;
and a retreat to the interior becomes necessary. During the prevalence of
these winds, the southern side of the island is the favorite resort.
Fortunately, these chilly visitors are few and far between, seldom
continuing more than three or four days, with as many hours of rain. In the
absence of these, the climate is as perfect as heart can desire,
resembling, for the most part, that of the south of France.

Notwithstanding the large tracts of cultivated plantations and farms, which
make this beautiful island a perfect garden, it has extensive forests of
great beauty and value. The palm, whether found in clusters or alone, is
always a magnificent tree, and is useful for a variety of purposes--its
trunk for building, its leaves for thatching, and several kinds of
convenient manufactures, and its seeds for food. Mahogany abounds in some
parts, and other kinds of hard wood suitable for ship building, a business
which has been carried on very extensively in the island. The vine attains
to a luxuriant growth, so as often to destroy the largest trees in its
parasitical embrace. The orange and the pine-apple, both of a delicious
flavor, abound on all sides. Indian corn, the sweet potatoe, rice, and a
great variety of other important edibles are extensively cultivated, giving
wealth to some, and sustenance to thousands.

The great staples of Cuba, however, and the principle sources of her
immense wealth, are sugar and coffee. These are produced in the greatest
abundance. The annual exports amount to about six hundred and fifty
millions pounds of sugar, and eighty-four millions of coffee. The exports
of tobacco are about ten millions pounds in the leaf, besides three hundred
and ten millions of manufactured cigars. There are also large exports of
molasses, honey, wax, etc.

There are copper mines of great value in the south east part of the island,
in the neighborhood of Santiago. They were worked a long time, but for some
reason were abandoned for more than a century. More recently they have been
re-opened, and are now esteemed the richest copper mines in the world. They
are worked principally by an English company, and the ore is sent to
England to be smelted. The annual amount is not far from a million and a
half of quintals.

The whole population of Cuba is estimated at a little over a million,
420,000 whites, 440,000 slaves, and 150,000 free colored persons. The
annual revenue of the island, obtained from heavy taxes upon the sales of
every species of property, and from duties export as well as import, is
twelve millions of dollars. This is all drawn from its 420,000 whites,
averaging nearly thirty dollars a head. Of this amount, but very little is
expended in the island, except for the purpose of holding the people in
subjection. Four millions go into the coffers of the mother country.

The island of Cuba is nearly eight hundred miles in length, from east to
west, varying in breadth from twenty-five to one hundred and thirty miles.
Its coast is very irregular, deeply indented with bays and inlets, and
surrounded with numerous islands and reefs, making a difficult and
dangerous navigation. It has many excellent harbors, that of Havana being,
as has already been said, one of the best in the world. A range of
mountains, rising into the region of perpetual barrenness, traverses the
entire length of the island, dividing it into two unequal parts, the area
of the southern portion being rather the larger of the two. There are also
many other isolated mountain peaks and lofty hills, in different parts of
the island, some of them beautifully wooded to their very summits, and
others craggy, barren, precipitious, and full of dark caverns and frightful
ravines.

The principal places, after Havana, are Matanzas, Cardenas, Puerto del
Principe, Santiago, St. Salvador, Trinidad, and Espiritu Santo. Besides
these there are some half a dozen smaller cities, twelve considerable
towns, and about two hundred villages. The principal seaports are all
strongly fortified.

Matanzas is situated on the northern shore, about sixty miles east of the
capital. It contains, including its suburbs, about twenty thousand
inhabitants, of whom rather more than half are whites, and about one sixth
are free blacks. It commands the resources of a rich and extensive valley,
and its exports of coffee, sugar, and molasses, are very large. The bay of
Matanzas is deep and broad, and is defended by the castle of San Severino.
The harbor at the head of this bay, is curiously protected against the
swell of the sea, during the prevalence of the north-east winds, by a ledge
of rocks extending nearly across it, leaving a narrow channel on each side,
for the admission of vessels. The city is built upon a low point of land
between two small rivers, which empty themselves into the bay, and from
which so heavy a deposit of mud has been made, as materially to lessen the
capacity of the harbor. The anchorage ground for vessels is, consequently,
about half a mile from the shore, and cargoes are discharged and received
by means of lighters.

Cardenas is comparatively a new place, the first settlement having been
made less than twenty years ago. It now numbers about two thousand
inhabitants. It is finely situated at the head of a beautiful bay, fifty
miles eastward of Matanzas. This bay was once a famous resort for pirates,
who, secure from observation, or winked at by the well-feed officials,
brought in the vessels they had seized, drove them ashore on the rocks, and
then claimed their cargoes as wreckers, the murdered crews not being able
to claim even a salvage for their rightful owners. In the exhibition of
scenes like this, the bay of Cardenas was not alone, or singular. Many an
over-hanging cliff, and dark inlet of that blood-stained shore, could tell
a similar tale.

The rail-road from this place to Bemba, eighteen miles distant, passes
through a beautiful tract of country, and affords to the traveller a view
of some of the most picturesque scenery that is to be found in the island.

Owing to its fine harbor, and its facilities of communication with the rich
tract of country lying behind it, this place will become a formidable rival
to Matanzas, when its port shall be thrown open to foreign commerce. At
present, there is no custom house here, and all the produce is transported
in lighters to Matanzas or Havana, to be sold. It has not depth of water
for the largest class of vessels, but the greater part of those usually
employed in the West India trade, can be well accommodated.

Puerto del Principe, situated in the interior of the island, about midway
between its northern and southern shores, and more than four hundred miles
eastward from Havana, contains a population of twenty-four
thousand--fourteen thousand being whites, and about six thousand slaves.
This district is celebrated for the excellent flavor of its cigars. It is a
place of considerable importance, and the residence of a
lieutenant-governor.

Santiago de Cuba, is on the southern coast, about one hundred miles from
the eastern extremity of the island, and nearly seven hundred south-east of
Havana. Its population is twenty-five thousand, of whom nearly ten thousand
are whites, and eight thousand slaves. It has a fine, capacious harbor,
scarcely second to that of Havana, and strongly defended by a castle, and
several inferior batteries. It has a large trade in sugar, coffee, and
molasses. About twelve miles from the city, westward, is the town of
Santiago del Prade, near which the rich copper mines, before mentioned, are
situated, giving employment in one way or another, to nearly all of its two
thousand inhabitants.

Bayamo, or St. Salvador,--sixty miles west of Santiago, numbers nearly ten
thousand souls. Manzanilla, thirty miles south from this, has three
thousand.

Trinidad de Cuba, two hundred miles further west, and about two hundred and
fifty from Havana, has a population of thirteen thousand, of whom six
thousand are whites, and four thousand five hundred, free colored.

Espiritu Santo, thirty-five miles eastward from Trinidad, has less than ten
thousand inhabitants in the city, and thirty-four thousand in the whole
district, of whom twenty-two thousand are whites, a very unusual proportion
in these islands.

In their general features, in the style of the buildings, in the character
of the people, their occupations, modes of living, customs of society,
etc., etc., all these places bear a close resemblance to each other,
varying only in location, and the lay of the land, and the forms of the
rivers and bays about them.

The government of Cuba is a military despotism, whose edicts are enforced
by an armed body of more than twelve thousand soldiers. The Captain General
is appointed by the crown of Spain, and is a kind of vice-roy, exercising
the functions of commander-in-chief of the army, Governor of the western
province of the island, President of the provincial assembly, etc. The
present incumbent, Don Leopold O'Donnell, enjoys a great share of
popularity. He holds no civil jurisdiction over the eastern province, of
which Santiago is the capital. The governor of that province is entirely
independent of the Captain General, except in military matters, and is
amenable only to the court of Madrid.

The Intendente, Count Villa Nueva, recently re-instated in that office, is
said to be very desirous to ameliorate the burdens of the planting
interest; and in his efforts to secure this result, he has evinced the good
sense and prudence, which are usually followed with success. His integrity
and talents, together with the fact that he is the only "native" who was
ever exalted to high official rank, have secured for him the unbounded
confidence and affection of the people. His power is distinct from that of
the Governor, and is in no way dependent upon it. He exercises certain
legal rights, such as the entire control of the imports and exports, and
is, in fact, the sole manager of all the financial concerns of the colony.
By this arrangement, the purse and the sword are entirely separated, and
the dangers to be apprehended from the abuse of power, greatly diminished.

No attempt to illustrate the position, resources, and character of Cuba, at
the present time, would do justice to its subject, or to the feelings of
its author, without an honorable and grateful mention of the name of Tacon.
And no one who has visited the island, or who feels any interest in its
welfare, or any regard for the lives and fortunes of those who hold
commercial intercourse with its inhabitants, can withhold from the memory
of that truly great and good man, the well-earned tribute of admiration
and gratitude. He was a rare example of wisdom and benevolence, firmness
and moderation, and seems to have been raised up by Providence, and
qualified for the peculiar exigency of his time. He has, no doubt, been
eminently useful in other stations in his native land; else he would never
have been known to his monarch, as fitted for the difficult task assigned
him here. But, if he had never acted any other part on the stage of
life--if the term of his public and private usefulness had been limited to
the brief period of his chief magistracy in Cuba, he had won a fame nobler
than that of princes, fairer, worthier, and more enduring than that of the
proudest conquerors earth ever saw. The memorial of such a man can never be
found in marble, or in epitaph. It is written in the prosperity of a
people, and of the nations with whom they hold commercial intercourse. It
lives, and should for ever live, in the gratitude, admiration and reverence
of mankind.

When General Tacon was appointed Governor General of Cuba, Havana was
literally a den of thieves, a nursery of the foulest crimes, a school where
the blackest conceptions of which the human heart is capable, and the most
diabolical inventions of mischief, were not only seen to escape punishment,
but were officially tolerated and encouraged. A spirit of venality and
almost incredible corruption prevailed in the judicial and financial
departments; and the subaltern magistrates, if not actual partakers, by
receiving their share of the booty, connived at every variety of robbery
and plunder. No natural or civil rights were regarded--no one's life or
property was held sacred. Murders in the open street, and under the broad
blaze of a sunlit sky, were fearlessly committed; slaves and pirates
unblushingly perambulated the streets, discussing their fiendish
machinations, and perpetrating deeds of darkness, over which humanity
should weep. Specie transported from one part of the city to another,
required the protection of an armed force. Such was the aspect, and such
the lamentable state of affairs, both public and private, in Havana, at the
time that Tacon came into power. The measures adopted by him for the
introduction of order and the purification of the whole political system,
were no less wise and judicious, than his fearlessness, promptness and
perserverance in enforcing them, were deserving of the highest
commendation. His labors were truly Herculean, and his success in cleansing
this Augean stable most signal.

During his elevation to power, which continued four years, the aspect of
things in Havana was completely changed. Order supplanted confusion, and
wholesome authority succeeded to anarchy and misrule. Individuals became
secure in the possession of life and property; strangers and foreigners no
longer felt themselves surrounded by lawless bandits, and compelled, by the
absence of law, order and discipline, to take the law into their own hands,
or abandon, at the first appearance of violence, the protection of their
rights, property and life. The man who formerly walked abroad in Havana,
was forced to feel, and to act accordingly: that "his hand was against
every man, and every man's against him."

This Solon of Cuba was the originator and promoter of most of the principal
improvements which now adorn the city and surrounding country, many of
which bear his name. This bloodless revolution was accomplished without any
additional public expense or burdensome tax upon the people, by a wise
administration and righteous application of the ordinary resources of the
government. Such, and more, were the blessings bestowed upon Cuba by Tacon.
Such are the glorious results of the public career of one whose highest
ambition and whose proudest aim seemed to be, the elevation of his
countrymen--the welfare, security and happiness of mankind. As we honor and
revere the names of Washington and La Fayette, so should the dwellers on
that island ever love and cherish the name of the illustrious Tacon. At the
expiration of four years, he voluntarily retired to Spain, and was
succeeded in the government by General Espeleta. "May the shadow of Tacon
never be less;" or, as they say in his own native tongue, "_viva ustéd
múchos âños_."

The commerce of Cuba is with the world; yet its importance as a trading
mart is chiefly realized by its nearest neighbor, the United States. Its
annual imports and exports, which nearly balance each other, amount to
about twenty-five millions of dollars each. Of the imports, during the last
year, which may be taken as a fair average, it received five millions two
hundred and forty thousand dollars, or more than one-fifth, from the United
States. Of the exports, during the same period, we received nine millions
nine hundred and thirty thousand dollars, within a fraction of two-fifths.
In addition to this, its commerce with the different ports of Europe, South
America, and other parts of the world, furnished profitable freights to a
large number of our carrying ships, and employment to our hardy seamen. We
are in duty bound, therefore, to regard this miniature continent, hanging
on our southern border, with a favorable eye, and to cultivate with it the
most neighborly relations.

It is true, we have had some cause of complaint in our intercourse
hitherto, and we may not soon look for its entire removal. The imposts upon
our productions are severe and disproportionate, the port-charges onerous,
and the incidental exactions unreasonable and vexatious. We are often
subjected to frivolous delays, and unjust impositions, in the adjustment of
difficulties at the custom house, and in the recovery of debts in the
courts of law. We have also, in times past, been severe sufferers from the
depredations of well known and almost licensed pirates, who, in open day,
and under the walls of the castle, have plundered our property, and
butchered our seamen. Still, with all the offsets which the most ingenious
grumbler could array, we owe much to the "Queen of the Antilles," and
_might_ have more occasion for regret, than for gratulation, should she
ever be transferred to the crown of England, or annexed to the territories
of the United States. If her people were prepared for self-government--if
the incongruous elements of society there could, by any possibility,
amalgamate and harmonize, the establishment of an independent government
would doubtless promote her own happiness, and benefit us and the world.
The luxuriant plains, and valleys, and hill-sides of this beautiful isle,
have capacities amply sufficient to sustain a population ten times as large
as that which it now contains. Burdened, and almost crashed under the
weight of their own taxes, ruled with a rod of iron, and held in almost
slavish subjection by the bristling bayonets of a mercenary foreign
soldiery, who, under the pretence of defending them from invasion or
insurrection, eat out their substance, and rivet their chains--the million
who now reside there, with the exception of a few overgrown estates among
the planters and merchants, find, for the most part, a miserable
subsistence. There is probably no class of people in any portion of the
United States, so miserably poor and degraded, as the mass of the Monteros
and free blacks of Cuba. Give them a fostering government, and free
institutions, educate them, make men of them, and throw wide open to all
the avenues to comfort, wealth and distinction--and there is no spot on the
face of the globe that would sustain a denser population than this.

The exports from the United States to Cuba consist of lumber of various
kinds, codfish, rice, bacon, lard, candles, butter, cheese. The first two
articles are almost exclusively from the Northern States, the third from
the Southern, the remainder from all. The imports hence are of all the
productions of the island.

The cause of education in this lovely land is lamentably low. In the large
cities and towns, respectable provision is made for the wants of the young
in this respect. The Royal University at Havana, embracing among its
advantages, schools of medicine and law, offers very considerable
facilities to the industrious student. There are also several other lesser
institutions in the city, with schools, public and private, for teaching
the elementary branches of a common education. Some of these are tolerably
well sustained; but the range they afford, and the talent they command, is
comparatively so limited, that most of those who are able to bear the
expense, prefer sending their sons to the United States or Europe, to
complete their education.

No other place in the island is so well provided in this respect as the
capital. Arrangements are made, in most of the towns and interior
districts, for gratuitous instruction. In some cases, this provision is
wholly inadequate. In others, it is regarded with indifference by the class
for whose benefit it is designed. Their abject poverty and destitution of
the common comforts of life, seems to cramp all their energies, and
dishearten them from any attempt to better the condition of their children.
And, indeed, under their present civil and political institutions, but few
advances could be made, even if the people were ambitious to improve. For
the government, like all despotisms, is jealous of the intelligence of its
subjects, well knowing that a reading, thinking people must and will be
free.

Cuba was the fifth of the great discoveries of Columbus, and by far the
most important of the islands he visited. San Salvador, Conception, Exuma
and Isabella, which he had already seen and named, were comparatively small
and of little note, though so rich and beautiful, that they seemed to the
delighted imagination of the discoverer, the archipelago of Paradise, or
the "islands of the blest." It is very remarkable, that, though he skirted
the whole of the southern, and more than half the northern coast of Cuba,
following its windings and indentations more than twelve hundred miles,
till he was fully convinced that it was a part of a great continent, and
not an island; yet he made no attempt to occupy it, or to plant a colony
there. It was not even visited during his life-time, and he died in the
full conviction that it was not an island. He gave it the name of Juana, in
honor of the young prince John, heir to the crowns of Castile and Leon. It
afterwards received the name of Fernandina, by order of the king in whose
name it was occupied and held. But the original designation of the natives
finally prevailed over both the Spanish ones, which were long since laid
aside. It is understood to be derived from the Indian name of a tree, which
abounded in the island.

In 1511, about five years after the death of Columbus, his son and
successor, Diego, in the hope of obtaining large quantities of gold, which
was then growing scarce in Hispaniola, sent Don Diego Velasquez, an
experienced and able commander, of high rank and fortune, to take
possession of Cuba. Panfilo de Narvaez was the second in command in this
expedition. The names of both these knights are conspicuous in the
subsequent history of Spanish discovery and conquest, in the islands, and
on the continent, but more especially in their relation to Cortes, the
great conqueror of Mexico.

The inhabitants of Cuba, like those of Hispaniola, and some of the other
islands, were a peaceful effeminate race, having no knowledge of the arts
of war, and fearing and reverencing the Spaniards as a superior race of
beings descended from above. They submitted, without opposition, to the
yoke imposed upon them. It was for the most part, a bloodless conquest,
yielding few laurels to the proud spirits who conducted it, but rich in
the spoils of spiritual warfare to the kind-hearted and devoted Las Casas,
subsequently Bishop of Chiapa, who accompanied the army in all its marches,
the messenger of peace and salvation to the subjugated Indians. According
to the record of this good father, the indefatigable missionary of the
cross, only one chief residing on the eastern part of the island, offered
any resistance to the invaders; and _he_ was not a native, but an emigrant
from Hispaniola, whence he had recently escaped, with a few followers, from
the cruel oppression of their new masters, to find repose on the peaceful
shores of Cuba. Alarmed and excited by the appearance of the Spanish ships
approaching his new found retreat, Hatuey called his men together, and in
an eloquent and animated speech, urged them to a desperate resistance, in
defence of their homes and their liberty. With scornful irony, he assured
them that they would not be able successfully to defend themselves, if they
did not first propitiate the god of their their enemies. "Behold him here,"
said he, pointing to a vessel filled with gold, "behold the mighty
divinity, whom the white man adores, in whose service he ravages our
country, enslaves us, our wives and our children, and destroys our lives at
his pleasure. Behold the god of your cruel enemies, and invoke his aid to
resist them." After some slight ceremonies of invocation, in imitation of
the rites of Christian worship, which they had learned from their
oppressors, they cast the gold into the sea, that the Spaniards might not
quarrel about it, and prepared for their defence. They fought desperately,
resolved rather to die in battle, than submit to the cruel domination of
the invaders. They were nearly all destroyed. The Cacique Hatuey was taken
prisoner, and condemned to be burned alive, in order to strike terror into
the minds of the other chiefs and their people. In vain did the benevolent
missionary protest against the cruel, unchristian sacrifice. He labored
diligently to convert the poor cacique to the Christian faith, urging him
most affectionately to receive baptism, as the indispensable requisite for
admission to heaven. His reply is one of the most eloquent and bitterly
taunting invectives on record. Enquiring if the white men would go to
heaven, and being answered in the affirmative, he replied--"then I will not
be a christian, for I would not willingly go where I should find men so
cruel." He then met his death with heroic fortitude, or rather with that
stoical indifference, which is a common characteristic of the aborigines of
America; preferring even a death of torture to a life of servitude,
especially under the hated Spaniards, who had shown themselves as incapable
of gratitude, as they were destitute of pity, and the most common
principles of justice.

The army met with no further opposition. The whole island submitted quietly
to their sway, and the unresisting inhabitants toiled, and died, and wasted
away under the withering hand of oppression. It is probable, from all
accounts, that the population, at the time of the conquest, was nearly, if
not quite as great, as it is at the present time; though some of the
Spanish chroniclers, to cover the cruelty of so dreadful a sacrifice,
greatly reduce the estimate. Whatever were their numbers, however, they
disappeared like flowers before the chilling blasts of winter. Unaccustomed
to any kind of labor, they fainted under the heavy exactions of their
cruel and avaricious task-masters. Diseases, hitherto unknown among them,
were introduced by their intercourse with the strangers; and, in a few
years, their fair and beautiful inheritance was depopulated, and left to
the undisputed possession of the merciless intruders.

In four years after the subjugation, Velasques had laid the foundation of
seven cities, the sites of which were so well selected, that they still
remain the principal places in the colony, with the exception of Havana,
which was originally located on the southern shore, near Batabano, but
afterwards abandoned on account of its supposed unhealthiness. Its present
site, then called the port of Carenas, was selected and occupied in 1519.

So much has been said of the impregnable strength of Havana, that I shall
venture, at some risk of repetition, as well of being out of place with my
remarks, to say a few words more on that point. The position of the Moro,
the Cabañas, and the fortress on the opposite eminence, has been
sufficiently illustrated. I know not that any thing could be added to these
fortifications, to make them more perfect, in any respect, than they are.
They confer upon Havana a just claim to be called, as it has been, "The
Gibraltar of America." In effecting this, nature has combined with art, in
a beautiful and masterly manner, so that the stranger is struck, at the
first glance, with the immense strength of the place, and the thought of
surprising or storming it, would seem to be little short of madness.

But let it be remembered that the _impregnable_ Gibraltar was successfully
attacked, and is now in possession of the conquerors. The _inaccessible_
heights of Abraham were scaled in a night, and Quebec still remains to show
what seeming impossibilities courage and skill united can achieve.

With the exception of the Moro, all the great fortifications at Havana, are
of comparatively recent construction. They have been erected since the
memorable seige of 1762, when, after one of the most desperate and
sanguinary conflicts on record, the English fleet and army succeeded in
capturing the city. The Spaniards say, that the final and successful sortie
was made in the afternoon, while their generals was taking their
_siesta_--a cover for the shame of defeat, about as transparent as that of
the Roman sentinels at the tomb of Christ, whom the wily priests induced to
declare, that "his disciples stole him away while they slept." There is no
question, however, that, notwithstanding the great strength of this place,
and its entire safety from any attack by sea, it could be assailed with
effect, by the landing of efficient forces in the rear, in the same manner
as these other places, just mentioned, were taken, and as the French have
recently succeeded in capturing Algiers.



CHAPTER V.

DEPARTURE FROM HAVANA.--THE GULF OF MEXICO.--ARRIVAL AT VERA CRUZ.

     The Steamer Dee.--Running down the coast.--Beautiful
     scenery.--Associations awakened by it.--Columbus.--The
     scenes of his glorious achievements.--The island
     groups.--The shores of the continent.--"The Columbian
     sea."--Disappointments and sufferings, the common
     inheritance of genius.--Cervantes, Hylander, Camoens,
     Tasso.--These waters rich in historical
     incidents.--Revolutions.--Arrival at Vera Cruz.--The Peak of
     Orizaba.--Description of Vera Cruz.--Churches.--The
     Port.--San Juan de Ulloa.--Scarcity of Water.--The
     suburbs.--Population.--Yellow Fever.


The British Royal mail steamer Dee, arriving at Havana on one of her
regular circuits, presented a very favorable opportunity to gratify a
disposition for change. Accordingly, on the 10th of February, I embarked on
board of her, with the intention of touching at Vera Cruz, and thence
proceeding to Tampico, and such other interesting points as my time and
health would allow.

The "Dee" is one of a Line of Steamers, built by a company in London, to
carry the mails, which are placed in charge of an officer, acting under the
direction of the British government. This company receives from the
government, two hundred and fifty thousand pounds annually. The vessels
average about one thousand tons each, and are so built as to be readily
altered into men-of-war, should they be required to strengthen the English
naval power. The Dee consumes about thirty-five tons of coal per day. Her
average speed, however, under the most favorable circumstances, does not
exceed eight and a half knots an hour. She is commanded by a sailing master
of the British navy, whose salary is about fifteen hundred dollars per
annum. She has been in service only two years, but has the appearance of
being a much older vessel; a circumstance caused no doubt by the
"retrenchments" consequent upon the unlimited extravagance of the company's
first outfit. Her so-called "accommodations" were very inferior, and the
table was miserably furnished, but the service of plate, emblazoned with
heraldic designs, was, unquestionably, beautiful.

We steamed out of the harbor at sunrise, the ever wakeful Moro looking
sternly down upon us as we passed under its frowning battlements; and,
being favored with delightful weather, skirted the coast as far as we
could, and took our departure from Cape Antonio.

Nothing can exceed the beauty and sublimity of the natural scenery thus
presented to our view, between Havana and the point of the Cape. The broad
rich plains, the gentle slopes, the luxuriant swells, the hills clothed
with verdure to their very crowns, the lofty mountains with their abrupt
and craggy prominences and ever changing forms, make up a landscape of the
richest and rarest kind, beautiful in all its parts, and exceedingly
picturesque in its general effect. The hills, with highly cultivated
plantations, extending from the lovely valleys below, in beautiful order
and luxuriance, far up towards their forest-crowned summits, looked green
and inviting, as if full of cool grottos and shady retreats; while the
far-off mountains where

    "Distance lent enchantment to the view,"

seemed traversed with dark ravines and gloomy caverns, fit abodes for those
hordes of merciless banditti, whose predatory achievements have given to
the shores and mountain passes of Cuba, an unenviable pre-eminence in
outlawry.

The motion of our oaken leviathan, sweeping heavily along through the quiet
sea, created a long, low swell, which, like a miniature tide, rose gently
upon the resounding shore, washing its moss-covered bank, and momentarily
disturbing the echoes that lingered in its voiceless caves. It was painful
to feel that I was leaving those beautiful shores, never, in all
probability, to revisit them. A gloomy feeling took possession of my soul,
as if parting again, and for ever, from the shores of my early home. Then
came up, thronging upon the memory and the fancy, a multitude of historical
associations, suggested by the land before me, and the sea on whose bosom I
was borne--associations of the most thrilling and painful interest, and yet
so wonderfully arrayed in the gorgeous drapery of romance, that I would
not, if I could, dismiss them.

Albeit, then, I may be in imminent danger of running into vain repetitions,
in giving indulgence to the melancholy humor of the hour, I cannot refrain
from following out, in this place, where a clear sky and an open sea leave
me no better employment, some of those reflections, which, if indulged in
at all, might, perhaps, with equal appropriateness have found a place in
one of the previous chapters. With Cuba, one of the earliest, and the most
important of the great discoveries of Columbus, behind me--the shores of
Central America, the scene of his last and greatest labors in the cause of
science, before me--and the wide expanse of sea, which witnessed all his
toils, and sufferings, around me on every side--how could I do otherwise
than recall to mind all that he had accomplished, and all that he had
endured, in this region of his wonderful adventures! Here was the grand
arena of his more than heroic victories, the theatre of his proud triumph
over the two great obstacles, which, in all ages have opposed the march of
mind--the obstinate bigotry of the ignorant, and the still more obstinate
ignorance of the learned.

Behind me, far away toward the rising sun, was the little island of San
Salvador, where the New World, in all its elysian beauty, its virgin
loveliness, burst upon his view. Conception, Fernandina, and Isabella, the
bright enchanting beacons rising out of the bosom of the deep, to guide his
eager prow to Cuba, the "Queen of the Antilles," were there too, slumbering
on the outer verge of the coral beds of the Bahamas. Nearer, and full in
view, its mountain peaks towering to the skies, and stretching its long arm
nearly three hundred leagues away toward the south-east, lay the beautiful
island I had just left, the richest jewel of the ocean, the brightest gem
in the crown of Spain. Farther on in the same direction, and dimly descried
from the eastern promontories of Cuba, were the lofty peaks of St.
Domingo, beautifully flanked by Porto Rico on the right, and Jamaica on the
left. Then, farther still, sweeping in a graceful curve toward the
outermost angle of the Southern continent, and completing the emerald
chain, which nature has so beautifully thrown across the broad chasm that
divides the eastern shores of the two Americas, lay the windward cluster of
the Caribbean islands, terminating with Trinidad, in the very bosom of the
Gulf of Paria. Returning westward, along the coast of Paria, where Columbus
first actually saw the continent, and traversing the whole extent of the
Caribbean Sea, you might reach the shores of Honduras, where he again
touched the shores of the continent, and finished, amid the infirmities of
age, and the sufferings consequent upon a life of toil, hardship and
exposure, his great achievement of discovery, his career of usefulness and
glory.

Coming northward, toward the point whither we were then tending, and
rounding Cape Catoche into the Gulf of Mexico, you would behold the true
Eldorado which they all sought for, and which the brave Cortes afterwards
found--the golden mountains and golden cities of Anahuac. Northward still,
some two hundred leagues, the "Father of rivers" pours his mighty current
into the bosom of the Gulf, after watering and draining the richest and
broadest valleys in the world, and linking together, by its various and
extended branches, the mighty fraternity of republics, spread over the vast
territories of the North.

I pity the man, whoever he may be, and of whatever nation, who can visit
these islands, or traverse these seas, for the first time, without feeling
as if he were treading on enchanted ground. Every country, every sea has
its peculiar history, and its peculiar associations. There is much to
interest the heart, and inflame the imagination in the dark legends of the
Indian archipelago--in the classic memories and time-hallowed monuments of
the "Isles of Greece," and of the shores and bays, the mountains and
streams of all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean--in the
rock-bound coast of the North Sea--in the basaltic columns and gigantic
caverns of the Emerald Isle;--but they do not, in my view, either or all of
them, surpass, in the deep interest and moral grandeur of the associations
they awaken, the shores that then surrounded me--the American Isthmus, and
the American archipelago.

The American archipelago!--the Mediterranean of the Western World, with its
beautiful clusters of magnificent islands--why not call it, as Bradford
long ago suggested, THE COLUMBIAN SEA? Surely, if the Florentine merchant
has been permitted to rob the great Genoese discoverer of the honor of
conferring his own illustrious name upon the two vast continents, which his
genius and perseverance brought to light, while the whole world has quietly
sanctioned the larceny--we, who know the equity of his claims, and feel how
shamefully he has been abused, might at least do him the lardy justice to
affix his name, in perpetuo, to this sea, which, by universal
acknowledgment, he was the first to traverse and explore--the scene of his
glorious triumph over the narrow and ignorant prejudices of his day, as
well as of his romantic adventures, toils and sufferings.

What must have been the emotions of Columbus when he first traversed these
waters, and beheld these lovely islands! For, even now, with the mind
already prepared by the full and elaborate descriptions of geographers and
travellers, they are beheld by the voyager, for the first time, with
sensations of surprise and delight. The objects of wonder with which he and
his crew were surrounded--the variation of the compass, the regularity of
the winds, and other phenomena, of the existence of which they could not
possibly have been apprised, must have been truly exciting. Think of his
astonishment on landing, to find myriads of people, disposed to regard him
and his adventurous crew, as beings of a superior order, whom they were
almost ready to adore. And then, pray that the veil of oblivion may be
thrown over the fiendish requital which, in after years, succeeded this
hospitable reception.

It is any thing but agreeable to a generous heart, to witness or
contemplate the strivings of a noble mind, with the cares and anxieties of
life, having some magnificent project in view, but hindered from carrying
it forward, by the stern demand of a starving household, or the want of
that _golden_ lever, which, with or without a place to stand upon, has
power to move the world. With but few exceptions, it has ever been the
case, that men of genius have struggled with adversity,--

    Have felt the influence of malignant star,
    And waged with fortune an eternal war.

Fortune seldom smiles upon the sons of science. Rarely, indeed, does she
condescend to become the companion of genius. It was not until Columbus had
touched the master passion of his royal patrons, that he could induce them
to grant him assistance. When he had convinced the king of the great
pecuniary advantage to be derived to the crown from his enterprise, and the
queen of the vast accessions to the holy church, in bringing new
territories under her sway, and converting nations of heathen to the
Christian faith,--then, and not till then, did they consent to favor his
expedition. Absorbed with their one idea of planting the standards of
Castile and of the Cross on the marble palaces of the Alhambra, they had no
time to consider, no treasure to sustain, such magnificent schemes of
discovery. Should Columbus be succored, when Cervantes, suffered and
hungered for bread? Was it not the cold treatment Cervantes received, that
wrung from his subdued spirit the humiliating complaint, that "the greatest
advantage which princes possess above other men, is that of being attended
by servants as great as themselves?" But why should we seek out, dwell
upon, and hold up to the execration of the world, these instances of royal
littleness, injustice, and ingratitude, when the world is, and always has
been, full of such exhibitions of human nature? Was not Hylander compelled
to sell his notes on Dion Casseus for a _dinner_? Did not Camoens, the
solitary pride of Portugal,--he who after his death was honored by the
appellation of "_the great_,"--beg for bread? Has not a Tasso from the
depths of his poverty, besought his cat to assist him with the lustre of
her eyes, that he might pen his immortal verse? Yes,--and one simple story
would tell the fate of a Homer, Ariosto, Dryden, Spenser, Le Sage, Milton,
Sydenham, and a mighty host of others, who, after having spent their lives
in the cause of letters, and of human advancement and liberty, were
neglected by their countrymen, and suffered to die in obscurity, if not in
poverty and want!

The Columbian Sea! divided by the projecting peninsulas of Yucatan and
Florida, and the far-stretching walls of Cuba and Hispaniola, into two
great sections, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico--how full of
interest, historical and romantic, how curious, how wonderful in many of
the phenomena it exhibits! Here is the inexhaustible fountain head of that
inexplicable mystery of nature, the Gulf Stream, which, without any visible
adequate supply, throws its mighty current of calid water, thousands of
miles across the cold Atlantic. Here European civilization, and European
depotism first planted its foot in the elysian fields of the west. Here the
dreadful work of subjugation, and extermination commenced a work, which, in
three brief centuries, under the banners, too, of the Prince of Peace, and
in the name of Christianity, has blotted from the face of the earth a
mighty family of populous nations, some of them far advanced in
civilization and refinement, leaving only here and there a scattered and
almost exhausted tribe, bending under the yoke of slavery, or flying before
the continual encroachments of the white man.

It is difficult to say to which quarter of this sea one should turn, in
order to gather up the incidents and associations, which shall most deeply
touch the heart, and excite the imagination. On the east, these beautiful,
luxuriant islands, the first seen and visited, where the great, the noble,
the generous-hearted discoverer was received as a god by the simple and
hospitable natives, and afterwards calumniated, oppressed, deserted by his
friends, and left by his envious foes to pine a whole year on the shores of
Jamaica, with no shelter but the wreck of his last vessel--where too he was
shamefully imprisoned, and then sent home in chains, deprived of his honors
and his rights. On the west, the golden regions of Mexico, where the
Montezumas reigned with a degree of splendor rivalling the most brilliant
dynasties of the Old World--where civilization, and the arts of refinement,
were enjoyed to a degree unknown to many of the most powerful nations of
antiquity--where pyramids, temples, and palaces, whose extent and
magnificence might have vied with those of Egypt and Syria, still remain in
ruins to attest the departed glory of the Aztec races--and where the
marvellous, the scarcely credible adventures of Cortes, and his little hand
of brave invaders, brought desolation and wo on all that sunny region. On
the south, the great continent, the scene of similar adventures--the
theatre of oppression, of civil discord, of revolution, of a perpetual
struggle for power, but, it may be hoped, ere long of republican liberty.
On the north--what shall I say--the fairest and best portion of the wide
earth--the home of liberty--the home of our fathers--in a word, which
contains a depth of meaning that belongs to no other in any language--home!

How wonderfully have these shores changed hands and masters, since the day
when Columbus gave them all to Spain. What has she now left? The entire
continent of South America, the golden regions of the Isthmus, the broad
savannahs of Florida, and the boundless prairies of the great west, have
all been wrested from her iron and oppressive rule. And, of all that rich
cluster of islands, that lie along the eastern boundary of this great
sea--only Cuba and Porto Rico now acknowledge her sway. How bitterly the
wrongs she inflicted upon the hapless natives of these fair lands, have
recoiled upon her own head, and upon the heads of all her representatives
in the New World. Scarcely for one moment have they held any of their
ill-gotten possessions in peace. Revolt and revolution have swept over them
in quick succession, like the Sirocco of the desert, burying millions of
merciless oppressors in the same graves with the millions of the oppressed.
Anarchy, confusion, bloodshed, and civil discord and commotion, have been
the lot of their inheritance. And even to this day, except in the islands
above named, wherever the Spanish race remains in the ascendancy, the seat
of its power is, as it were, the crater of a volcano, where society, no
less than the earth, heaves and groans and trembles with the throes of
inward convulsion. Look yonder, as we near the shores of Mexico. Clouds of
dust and smoke--the thunders of artillery, the falling of successive
dynasties, mingle with the terrible din of the earthquake, and the
sulphureous belchings of subterraneous fires, and send up their angry
shouts, and voices of wailing to the skies, till the whole civilized world
is disturbed by their incessant broils. How long shall it be? When shall
this land have rest? When shall the curse of war, which has been laid upon
it for so many centuries, be revoked? Heaven speed the day.

There are some features which have been noticed by voyagers, as peculiar to
these waters. Whether they do not belong to inland seas, and to bays and
gulfs generally, my personal observation does not enable me to determine.
The color of the water is a less decided blue than that of the ocean. This
phenomenon I am at a loss to explain, having always supposed that the color
of the sea was only the reflection of the azure depths of the sky, and
that, consequently, in the clear atmosphere, and the deep blue heavens, of
the tropics, it would show a deeper tinge of cerulean than elsewhere.

It is also remarked that there is seldom known here, the long equable
swell, and gentle undulation, of the open ocean, but a short pitchy sea,
which, in small craft, is very disagreeable, but is less noticeable in the
larger class of vessels. The gulf is subject to periodical calms in the
summer, and to violent gales from the north in the autumnal months. Of the
Chapoté, an asphaltic ebullition on the surface of the sea, I shall speak
more fully in another place, in connection with a similar phenomenon
observed in the lakes of Mexico.

We arrived at Vera Cruz on the 15th of February. The voyage proved
agreeable--especially to those of our party who were subject to
sea-sickness, and who could therefore well appreciate their entire freedom
from the unpalatable, and often ludicrous effects produced by the
unceremonious movement of the waves, when uncontrolled by the irresistible
agency of steam. Indeed, we all felt strongly convinced, that steam
navigation is the _ne plus ultra_ of travelling at sea.

[Illustration: THE PEAK OF ORIZABA.]

Long before we made the land, the grand and lofty peak of Orizaba, with its
spotless mantle of eternal snow, rearing its hoary head seventeen thousand
feet above us, presented itself to our view. The highest ranges of the
Alleghanies, and the lofty summits of the Catskill, of my own country, were
familiar to my boyish days--but, I was little prepared to behold a scene
like this--a scene which caused the wonders of my childhood to dwindle
almost into nothing. Art, with all her charms, may, and often does,
disappoint us--but Nature, never. The conception of Him who laid the
foundations of the mountains, cannot be approached even by the most
aspiring flight of the imagination.

[Illustration: CASTLE OF SAN JUAN DE ULLOA.]

The first object that strikes the eye, in approaching Vera Cruz by water,
is the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa, with the spires and domes of the
churches peering up in the distance behind it. It stands alone, upon a
small rocky island, on one side of the main entrance to the harbor, and
only about half a mile from the wall of the city, and consequently has
complete command of the port. The entrance on the other side, is so barred
with broken reefs and ledges, that it can only be used by small craft in
favorable weather.

The Castle is circular, strongly built, and heavily mounted. Its principal
strength, however, is in its position, inaccessible except by water, and
its guns pointing every way, leave no side open to the attack of an enemy.
It has never been reduced but once, and then its natural ally, the city,
was against it. The sea was in the hands of its enemies, and all
communication with the outer world was cut off. It held out bravely while
its provisions lasted, and then yielded to famine, and not to arms. This
was in 1829, during the last dying struggles of Spain to hold on to her
revolted provinces in Central America.

Our pilot brought us to anchor in the harbor, or roadstead, under the walls
of this celebrated old castle, and within a few rods of the landing. An
unexpected visit from a "Norther," gave me an opportunity which would not
otherwise have presented itself, of paying my respects to the town.

"Vera Cruz Triunfante," the Heroic City, as it is styled in all public
documents, in consequence of the prowess of its citizens in taking the
Castle San Juan de Ulloa, which, as above stated, surrendered from
starvation, lies in a low, sandy shore; and, like all American Spanish
towns, has few attractions for the stranger, either in its general
appearance, or in the style of its architecture. The town is laid out with
great regularity. The streets are broad and straight, at right angles with
each other, and are well paved, which, unfortunately, is more than can be
said of many of the paved cities in the United States. The side-walks are
covered with cement, and are altogether superior to those of Havana. The
houses are generally well constructed to suit the climate. Many of them are
large, some three stories high, built in the old Spanish or Moorish style,
and generally enclosing a square courtyard, with covered galleries. They
have flat roofs, and parti-colored awnings, displaying beneath the latter a
profusion of flowers.

The best view of Tera Cruz is from the water. There are, within and outside
the walls, seventeen church establishments, the domes or cupolas of which
may be seen in approaching it from that direction, with quite an imposing
effect. The port is easy of access, but very insecure, being open to the
north, and consequently subject to the terrible "northers," which, in more
senses than one, during the winter season, prove a scourge to this coast.
It is well defended by a strong fort, situated on a rock of the island of
St. Juan de Ulloa, about half a mile distant. The name of this island, and
the castle upon it, are associated with some of the most terrible scenes of
blood and cruelty, that have given to the many revolutionary struggles of
that ill-fated country, an unenviable pre-eminence of horror.

The form of the city is semi-circular, fronting the sea. It is situated on
an arid plain, surrounded by sand hills, and is very badly supplied with
water,--the chief reliance being upon rain collected in cisterns, which are
often so poorly constructed as to answer but very little purpose. The chief
resource of the lower classes, is the water of a ditch, so impure as
frequently to occasion disease. An attempt was made, more than a century
ago, to remedy this evil, by the construction of a stone aqueduct from the
river Xamapa; but, unfortunately, after a very large sum had been expended
on the work, it was discovered that the engineer who projected it, had
committed a fatal mistake, in not ascertaining the true level, and the work
was abandoned in despair.

The outside of the city looks solitary and miserable enough. The ruins of
deserted dwelling houses, dilapidated public edifices, neglected
agriculture, and streets, once populous and busy, now still and overgrown
with weeds, give an air of melancholy to the scene, which it is absolutely
distressing to look upon, and which the drillings of the soldiery, and "all
the pomp and circumstance" of warlike parade, were insufficient to dispel.

The population of this place is now about six thousand. In 1842, two
thousand died of black vomit, the greater portion of whom were the poor,
half-enslaved Indians, brought from their healthy mountain homes, to serve
as soldiers on the deadly coast. This dreadful scourge made its appearance
on the continent of America, in 1699, where it was introduced by an English
ship from the coast of Africa, loaded with slaves; inflicting upon the
country, at the same instant, two of the greatest curses which the
arch-enemy of our race could have devised. The infectious disease we cannot
lay to the charge of England. It was one of those accidents which can only
be referred to the mysterious visitations of that all-wise, but inscrutable
providence, which rules over all the affairs of our little world. But for
the other, and not less hideous evil, the introduction of slavery, that
Government is directly responsible; and, however high and noble the
principles of benevolence, by which the present race of Englishmen are
actuated in their endeavors to procure universal emancipation, it ill
becomes them to reproach us, or our fathers, for the existence of a curse
among us, which their own government forced upon us, and their own fathers
supplied and sustained, with a zeal and perseverance worthy of a better
cause. Ages of penance and contrition, will not wipe out this dark stain
from the British escutcheon.

Vera Cruz is more subject to the yellow fever, than perhaps any other place
on the coast. This is chiefly owing to the filthy ditch before spoken of,
from which the lower classes are compelled to obtain a part of their supply
of water, and to the pools of stagnant water, which abound among the sand
hills in the vicinity. If these could be drained off, and the city supplied
with wholesome water, there can be no doubt it would fare as well in the
matter of health, as any other place on the coast, instead of being
regarded, as it is now, by the Spanish physicians, as the source and
fountain-head of yellow fever for the whole country. There is scarcely any
season of the year exempt from its ravages, but it prevails most in the
rainy season, particularly in September and October.

The history of Vera Cruz, as a place of importance to the Spaniards,
commences with the very first steps of the conquest. The name of San Juan
do Ulloa, was given to the island where the Castle now stands, by Grijalva,
on his pioneer visit to the place, in 1518, where he was so roughly handled
by the "natives." Cortes, after touching at Cozumel, made a landing at
this place, in 1519. He afterwards laid the foundation of a colony in the
vicinity, at the mouth of the river Antigua. It was from this point that he
set out on his adventurous march to the capital of the Aztec empire--an
adventure seemingly the most rash and ill advised, but in its results, the
most triumphant, in the annals of history.

The present site of Vera Cruz, which was founded by Count de Monterey, near
the close of the sixteenth century, and is sometimes, by way of
distinction, called Vera Cruz Nueva, is not the same as that of the ancient
city, planted by Cortes. That was situated fifteen miles to the north from
the city of our day, and was called "La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz"--The
rich town of the true cross. The harbor of the old town is far better than
that of the new, which, in fact, is no harbor at all, but an open roadsted,
exposed to every blast from the north. No good reason has been assigned for
the removal. One historian has suggested that it was owing to the
unhealthiness of the old town. If so, it is no mean illustration of the
sagacity of the unfortunate fish, that, in attempting to escape his
inevitable fate, "jumped out of the frying-pan into the fire."



CHAPTER VI.

SANTA ANNA DE TAMAULIPAS, AND ITS VICINITY.

    The old and new towns.--The French Hotel.--Early history
    of the place.--Remains of an ancient Indian
    town.--Situation of Pueblo Nuevo.--Health of the
    place.--Commerce.--Smuggling.--Corruption in Public
    Offices.--Letters and Mails.--Architecture.--Expense of
    living.--Tone of morals. Gaming.--The
    soldiery.--Degraded condition of the Indians.--The
    Cargadores.--The market place.--Monument to Santa
    Anna.--The Bluff.--Pueblo Viejo.--Visit to the
    ruins.--Desolate appearance of the place.--"La
    Fuente."--Return at sunset.--The Rancheros of
    Mexico.--The Arrieros.



On the 17th of February, we bade adieu to Vera Cruz, and sailed along the
coast, northwardly, for Tampico, distant over two hundred miles. The
passage was a very favorable one; and we arrived at our destination on the
evening of the following day. Coming to anchor outside the bar, a launch
from the shore, manned by naked Indians, was soon at our service, to take
us up to the city. It was a pull of six miles on the river Panuco. On our
way up, we passed Pueblo Viejo, or the old town of Tampico, on our left,
once a place of considerable trade, but now deserted, and comparatively in
ruins. Two miles above this place, we landed at the mole, as it is called,
where our luggage underwent the usual vexatious examinations; after which,
permission was given us to enter the town of Santa Anna de Tamaulipas,
known also as the Pueblo Nuevo, or New Town of Tampico.

I was soon ensconced in a hotel, kept by a Frenchman. It was a sad place.
The accommodations, if such a word can, with any propriety, be used in
reference to such a house, were as uninviting as could be desired. The
house was, in all respects, uncomfortable and dirty, and the charges $2,50
per day. But a shelter, in this country, though a poor one, is something to
be thankful for; and, in the almost universal absence of comfort, one often
has occasion to be grateful for any thing that bears a distant resemblance
to it. With this kind of philosophy, I endeavored to console myself in the
present instance, remembering that my situation was not quite as bad as it
might be, nor indeed as it oftentimes had been in other places.

Santa Anna de Tamaulipas stands on what was once the site of a populous
Indian town, which was first visited by Juan de Grijalva, in 1518. This
"hopeful young man and well behaved," as he is described by one of the old
historians, was the captain of the second expedition, sent from Cuba, to
explore the large and rich islands, as they were then supposed to be, lying
to the west, part of which were discovered by Columbus in 1502 and 1503,
and part by Juan Dias de Solis and Vincent Yañez Pinzon, in 1506. At this
place, Grijalva had a severe conflict with the "natives," who defended
"their altars and their homes" with great bravery. The old historians of
the conquest agree that Cortes, who followed Grijalva, and finally
succeeded in reducing the whole country to the Spanish yoke, met with a
warm reception on the Panuco. Few places were more ably defended, or more
reluctantly surrendered by the Indians.

But few traces remain of the ancient city, or of its brave inhabitants. Yet
occasionally, in digging for the foundations of buildings recently erected,
the bones, and sometimes complete skeletons, of that unfortunate race are
found, as well as remains of their household utensils.

Fifteen years ago, this place was occupied only by a few Indian huts, and
Pueblo Viejo, the old town, was in its most flourishing condition. But the
superior advantages of this position were too apparent to be longer
overlooked by the searching eye of commercial enterprise. The bank of the
river is very bold, and the water of sufficient depth to allow vessels to
anchor close to the shore; and the navigation inland is uninterrupted for
more than a hundred miles. The town is laid out in regular squares. The
site is a sort of low flat shelf of land, forming the terminus of a rocky
peninsula, above and back of which there is a cluster of lakes or ponds,
having an outlet into the Panuco. These ponds, like those in the vicinity
of Vera Cruz, are fruitful of yellow fever, which annually ravages this
devoted coast. This terrible scourge, which seems to be one of the settled
perquisites of the place, together with the formidable bar at the mouth of
the river, are serious drawbacks to the prosperity of the town. Were it
possible to remove them, I think there is little doubt that Santa Anna de
Tamaulipas would soon become one of the most flourishing seaport towns in
Mexico. Its local situation is favorable--it is the nearest point on the
coast to the richest of the mining districts, and the place from which the
greater portion of the specie is exported. It has also a considerable
business in dye-woods and hides.

But the commerce of Santa Anna de Tamaulipas has been declining for several
years, and, unless some new impulse is given to it, by some such
improvements as are above suggested, it must continue to decline. The
little business that is now done there, is chiefly in the hands of
foreigners.

Smuggling was once carried on here to a very great extent; but the severe
and stringent regulations of the government, have nearly succeeded in
breaking it up. Or, to speak with more perfect accuracy, the business has
changed hands, and that, which was before done through the venality of the
subordinates, is now carried on by the direct connivance of the heads of
the departments, who have contrived to monopolize to themselves this
lucrative traffic, and thus, by robbing the government, to enrich
themselves and the merchants at the same time. There is probably no country
in the world, where there is such utter destitution of good faith and
common honesty, on the part of those who contrive to secure the offices of
trust. It is a remark of almost universal application, though it will
probably apply with peculiar emphasis to the custom house department, where
the largest amount of spoils are necessarily to be found. The most glaring
cases of fraud are constantly occurring. Thousands of dollars are weekly
passed over to the officials, which never find their way into the treasury;
and thousands that have gone in are missing, having never honestly found
their way out. But little attention is paid to these instances of
corruption. The criminals, though well known, are allowed to retain their
stations; or, if by chance removed, through the complaints of those who are
eager to step into their places, they are only elevated to more important
and lucrative offices, where they have a wider field of operation, and a
better chance to serve themselves, _and those who appointed them_. How far
we of the United States may be placing ourselves in the condition of those
who live in glass houses, by thus throwing stones at the Mexicans, I know
not. But it is my candid opinion, shrewd and cunning as we are allowed to
be in all matters of finance, that we are quite out-done in these matters
by our more southern neighbors.

Letters arriving or departing by ship, cannot be delivered, without first
passing through the Post Office. The charges, which are very high, are
regulated by weight, as under the new system in the United States. No
captain, or consignee, is permitted to receive a letter, without the
government stamp, under a heavy penalty. Whether the same restriction and
penalty is laid upon passengers and travellers, I am not informed; but it
would be very difficult to carry them without observation, as every nook
and corner of every trunk, box, or bag, is searched, as well as the linings
of every article of dress, and even of your boots and shoes. All letters
are liable to seizure and inspection, and they are often broken, when any
cause of jealousy or suspicion arises. The ordinary mails in the northern
part of the country, are more regular than rapid, being, for the most
part, transported on the backs of the Indians. Of course, neither money,
nor valuable documents of any kind, are entrusted to this conveyance. An
armed _conducta_ performs this service between the mines and the capital,
and between the capital and the principal seaports.

In the buildings of Santa Anna de Tamaulipas, there is no uniformity of
style, and no pretensions to beauty. American, English, and Spanish, are
intermingled with the rude hut of the Indian. The population is as motley
and heterogeneous as can well be conceived; and with the variety of
feature, expression, manners, costume and no costume, ranks under what may
be termed _the picturesque_.

Notwithstanding the gradual decline of business here, rents and wages are
extremely high, and the prices paid for every article of consumption are so
enormous, that I should scarcely be believed if I should name them. And
this, too, among a beggarly-looking, half-naked population. The average
range of the thermometer is from 86° to 92°.

As might be expected, from what has been said already, the general tone of
morals in society is by no means elevated. The native, or Creole
population, are, for the most part, shamefully ignorant and debased, and,
with few exceptions, destitute of moral principle. They are extremely
jealous of foreigners, and seem to regard every stranger coming among them
as an unwelcome intruder. As far as I had an opportunity of judging, which
was not inconsiderable, I should say that, as a race, they are as destitute
of ambition to improve, as they are of education. There is no taste among
them for the cultivation of the fine arts, which once flourished in this
ill-fated country; whether among the remote ancestors of the present Indian
tribes, or among other and nobler races of men, it is not easy now to
decide.

The almost universal resource of the Creoles, is the gaming table, at which
numbers of them spend a large portion of their time. In this miserable and
demoralizing recreation, I am sorry to be obliged to say, that the
"natives" are not the only sharers. Strangers, who resort here for
business, whether English, American, Spanish or French, with a few rare and
honorable exceptions, sustain and encourage them by their example. Large
amounts are sometimes lost and won, though, for the most part, the stakes
are light; the passion being rather for gaming, and its attendant
excitements, than for winning.

The Indians, another and inferior class of natives, though nominally free,
are in fact slaves. They are the drudges and bearers of burdens, for the
whole community. They are ignorant, indolent and unthrifty to the last
degree, and seem to have no idea of the possibility of bettering their
condition. Like their superiors, they are much addicted to gaming, though
necessarily on a very limited scale. In their condition of desperate
poverty, they have little to lose; but that little is daily put at stake,
and lost, or rather thrown away, with as much coolness and indifference, as
if the inexhaustible mines of their golden mountains were all their own.
And it not unfrequently happens, that, having lost his last _maravedi_, he
stakes himself upon another throw, and becomes the temporary slave of the
winner. The laws, though they do not recognize slavery in the abstract,
are so constructed, as to admit of this arrangement. The consequence is,
that vast numbers, whom indolence or improvidence have reduced to the
necessity of running in debt to their white neighbors, are as truly slaves,
as they were before the revolution.

It is from the native Indians, that the rank and file of the Mexican army
is, for the most part, supplied. A greater burlesque upon the name of a
soldier can scarcely be conceived--a debased, insolent, drunken, half-naked
rabble, in comparison with which Colonel Pluck's famous regiment would have
made a display so brilliant, as to make all Philadelphia stare. It is a
marvel to me how they can accomplish any thing with such a miserable set of
ill-appointed, semi-civilized beings, especially, when their enlistment is
for the most part compulsory, while they fight for self-constituted,
tyrannical, unfeeling masters, and not for themselves, or their children. I
should suppose that a single company of well disciplined Anglo-Saxon
soldiers, would be more than a match for an ordinary Mexican army. If it
was with such regiments as these, that Santa Anna undertook to reduce the
refractory province of Texas, it is no matter of surprise that a handful of
Yankee adventurers were able, not only to keep him at bay, but to put him,
and his army of scarecrows, completely to route.

The Indian, as I have before remarked, is the abject slave of the Mexican;
and upon him devolves every kind of menial labor. The "Cargadores," who act
as porters, are seen in all the streets. They carry the heaviest burdens,
such as bales, barrels, boxes, etc. upon their backs; dray and draft
horses being unknown here. Others are seen in the market places, and lying
about the public streets, houseless, and almost naked, objects at once of
pity and disgust to those unaccustomed to such sights. No means are
employed, and no desire manifested, on the part of their superiors, to
improve their character or condition. Politically, the Mexican regards them
as his equals, while he treats them far worse than even the English do
their slaves, either at home or abroad.

The Market Place of Tampico is a rude open square, without embellishment,
natural or artificial, one corner of which is occupied with stalls or
tables, for meats and vegetables, which are guarded and dealt out by as
motley a set of beggars as I had ever seen, as uninviting group of caterers
as can well be imagined. The tarriers at home can little realize the many
disagreeable offsets to the pleasure one derives from visiting foreign
lands; while the traveller learns, by a painful daily experience, to
appreciate all the little conveniences and proprieties, as well as the
thousand substantial comforts of home.

In the centre of this square, a monument is to be erected in honor of the
celebrated General Santa Anna, commemorating his successful encounter with
the old Spanish forces, in this place, in the year 1829, during the last
struggles of Mexico to throw off the yoke of Spain, and establish an
independent government. The foundation of this monument is finished, and
the builders are waiting the arrival of the column from New York, where, as
I was informed, Italian artists are employed in completing it. It is
intended to be worthy of the name of the distinguished man in whose honor
it is reared, and of the event which it is designed to commemorate. How the
two can be fitly blended in one inscription, it is difficult to conceive.
The victory which Santa Anna achieved over the Spanish oppressors of the
struggling province, may indeed have a claim to be recorded on the enduring
marble; but, for the honor due to a _name_ like that of the exiled hero of
San Jacinto, a name so long associated with every species of tyranny and
oppression, of treason to his country, and of treachery alike to friend and
to foe--how shall it be appropriately expressed? In what terms of mingled
eulogium and execration shall it be couched? "_The_ NAME _and the_ EVENT!"
It will doubtless be an easy matter to frame an inscription suitable to the
_event_--but to illustrate the glory of the _name_--_hoc opus, his labor
est_.

In a state of society like that which has existed in Mexico, for many years
past, it would seem a difficult task to erect monuments to illustrate the
services of their great men. Revolution succeeding revolution, and dynasty
chasing dynasty, in rapid succession like the waves of the sea, a
successful leader has scarcely time to reach the post his high ambition has
aimed at, and procure a decree for a triumph and a monument, before a rival
faction has obtained possession of all the outposts, and begins to thunder
under the walls of the capital. One after another, they have risen, and
fallen, and passed away, some of them for ever, and some only to rise again
with more rapid strides, and then to experience a more ruinous fall, than
before. The monument which was begun yesterday in honor of one successful
hero, may, to-morrow, be consecrated to the victory won over him by his
enemy; and then, perhaps, be thrown down to give place to another, which
commemorates the overthrow of both.

How many times the government of Mexico is destined to be overturned and
remodeled, before the completion of the Tampico monument, and what will be
the position of the man for whose honor it was originally designed, when
the column shall be ready to be placed on its pedestal, it would be
hazardous to conjecture. It may not be unsafe, however, to predict, that
neither this, nor any other column, or statue, erected in Mexico, will
confer upon Santa Anna a greater notoriety than he now enjoys, or in any
way alter the world's estimate of his true character. Impartial history has
marred the beauty of many a monumental tablet, and converted that which was
meant for glory, into a perpetual memorial of shame.

A few yards from the Market place is a bold bluff of rock, fronting the
Panuco, from the top of which we have an extensive view of the surrounding
country. Near this place, the River Tamissee, which drains the adjacent
lagoons, forms its junction with the Panuco, which sweeps gracefully along
from the southwest, broken and diversified by a number of low wooded
islands, which disturb, but beautify its course.

On the opposite shore, at some distance, lies the lagoon of Pueblo Viejo,
and beyond that, but within sight from this bluff, the ruins of the old
town, situated on a beautiful plateau, or table land, flanked by the spires
of the Cordilleras.

The low lands of the suburbs are filled with rude huts of the Indians,
built chiefly of bamboo, and covered with the palm-leaf. A more squalid
state of misery than is exhibited among this class, both here and in the
town, it has never fallen to my lot to witness.

Not satisfied with this distant view of the ruins of the Pueblo Viejo, I
determined to form a nearer acquaintance with them, by a personal visit.
The American Consul, and his accomplished lady, very kindly accompanied me
thither, in a canoe, under the guidance of an Indian. We descended the
Panuco a short distance, and passed into a bayou communicating with one of
the great lagoons, near which the old town is situated. The locale is
decidedly agreeable and picturesque. Though in the uplands, it lies at the
foot of a steep and thickly wooded hill, which affords a variety of
romantic retreats, and commanding look-outs for the surrounding country.
But, however much they might have been improved and valued in former times,
they are now deserted, and forgotten. An almost death-like tranquillity
reigns in the forsaken streets and environs, forming a melancholy contrast
to the half European, and comparatively bustling aspect of its now more
prosperous rival.

The houses are low-built, with flat roofs. The façades of some of them
show, in the faded gaiety, and dubious taste of their coloring, what they
were in the palmy days of the Pueblo Viejo's early glory. Many of them had
court-yards and porticos. One group of old buildings, of Spanish
architecture, situated near the humble church that consecrated the public
square, shows many marks of its ancient grandeur, even in its present state
of desolation and decay.

It is painful to stroll through the streets of a city of our own times,
once full of life and bustle, but now falling into the decrepitude of a
premature old age. It is like walking among the sepulchres of the living;
and the few signs of life that remain, only serve to give intensity to the
shadows of night that are deepening around it. Here, there was nothing to
relieve the melancholy aspect of the scene. The people, both masters and
slaves, were poor, listless and inactive; their dwellings were comfortless
and uninviting, and their lands miserably neglected and unproductive. A
death-like incubus seemed to hang on the whole place.

We traversed the whole length of the streets, through the suburbs, to visit
"La Fuente," which is situated in a small dell at the foot of the hill
which overhangs the town. It is a beautiful spot, ornamented with every
variety of flower. Its source was concealed from view. "La Fuente" is an
artificial stone reservoir, of considerable length, beautifully
overshadowed with trees, from whose branches depends a kind of curtain of
interwoven vines, falling in the most luxuriant festoons on every side. It
is not now, as perhaps it has been in former days, a place of public resort
for recreation. It is the general laundry of Tampico; and its margin is
daily crowded, not with sylphs and naiads, but with a motley set of Indian
women, more appropriately compared to ancient sybils, or modern gypsies. It
was, altogether, the most remarkable and striking scene that had fallen
under my view in my recent travels, and one that would figure well in the
hands of the author of the "Twice Told Tales," or the "Charcoal Sketches."
To their notice I commend it, with free license to make what use they
please of my poor description.

The sun was setting when we returned to Santa Anna de Tamaulipas. We
paddled slowly away, pausing occasionally to admire--with my agreeable
companions--the brilliant effect of the last rays of day light upon the
lakes, woods and mountains, and the luxuriant foliage, realizing more fully
than I had ever been able to do before, the rare beauty of those remarkable
lines of Beattie--

    Oh! how canst thou renounce the boundless store
    Of charms that nature to her votary yields,
    The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
    The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields,
    All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
    And all that echoes to the song of even,
    All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
    And all the dread magnificence of heaven--
    Oh! how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!

Winding between verdant banks, through the broken channel, into the
beautiful Panuco, we reached the mole before night-fall, well satisfied
with the adventures of the day.

Before leaving the town, I wish to introduce to the reader two classes of
men, who are somewhat peculiar in their appearance, characters and habits,
as well as somewhat important in their relations to the business of the
country.

The _Rancheros_ are a mixed race of Mexican and Indian blood. They live on
the Ranches, or large cattle farms, and act as drovers. They are brave, and
full of life and vivacity, but profoundly ignorant of every thing beyond
their immediate occupations. There is an air of independence, and a
fearlessness of manner, in the Ranchero, which is quite imposing. Sallying
forth on his sinewy horse, encased in leather, with the ready lasso at his
saddle bow, he seems, though in coarse attire, the embodiment of health,
strength and agility.

The _Arrieros_, the muleteers of the country, have their peculiarities, the
most striking of which, and by far the most agreeable, is, that they are
honest. For this virtue they are proverbial, as indeed they should be in a
land where it is scarcely known in any other class of society. Many of them
pride themselves much upon their vocation, which frequently passes down
from father to son, through several generations. They are civil, obliging
and cheerful. They have, as a class, the entire confidence of the
community, and millions of property are confided to their care. Their
honesty and trustworthiness remain unimpaired amid all the political
changes of the country. Often as they are compelled to change masters, they
serve the new with the same fidelity as the old, and a stranger, or even an
enemy, as well as a friend.

Although this rigid honesty and trustworthinesss, in this class of persons
in Mexico, is worthy of remark and of all praise, I take pleasure in
stating, from my own personal observation, that it is not peculiar to that
country. The same class of persons in many parts of the United States, are
distinguished for the same virtue. Our common stage drivers and mail
carriers, although their employment is of the hardiest character, and their
general associations such as to expose them to many of the worst
temptations of taverns, bar-rooms, and other kindred influences, are as
well known for their integrity and faithfulness, in the trusts committed to
them, as for their skill and fearlessness in the management of their teams.
It is the common custom, in many parts of the country, to employ these men
in conveying remittances from the interior, to the banks, or merchants, in
the seaport towns. Thousands and thousands of dollars are daily sent in
this way, without receipt or acknowledgement, and with perfect reliance on
the faithfulness of the carrier. And I do not remember an instance, in that
part of the country where I have been most acquainted, in which this
confidence has been misplaced. If the Mexican _Arriero_ is deserving of
more credit for his virtue, in consequence of the inferior tone of morals
in the community about him, we would not willingly deprive him of it. At
the same time, we confess to a patriotic pride in finding, for every thing
that is "lovely and of good report" in foreign lands, an offset of
something equally good, or better, at home.



CHAPTER VII.

CANOE VOYAGE UP THE RIVER PANUCO. RAMBLES AMONG THE RUINS OF ANCIENT
CITIES.

     An independent mode of travelling.--The river and its
     banks.--Soil and productions.--A Yankee brick yard.--Indian
     huts.--Their manner of living.--Their position in
     society.--Their dress, stature and general
     appearance.--Arrival at Topila Creek.--Mr. Coss'
     rancho.--The Lady's Room.--Company at night.--An aged
     Indian.--His ignorance of the past.--Mounds.--Ruins of an
     ancient town.--Rancho de las Piedras.--Topila
     Hills.--Numerous Mounds.--An ancient well.--A wild
     fig-tree.--Extensive ruins.--An evening scene.--Attack of
     the Bandaleros.--Happy escape.


On the evening of the 14th of March, 1844, I took a temporary leave of
Tampico, and proceeded up the river Panuco, with the intention of visiting,
and as far as my time and means might allow, of exploring the ruins then
known to exist, and of seeking others which I supposed might be found, in
that vicinity. My mode of conveyance was as primitive and independent, as
can well be imagined. In my own hired canoe, with an Indian to paddle me
along, I felt that I was master of my own time and movements, and enjoyed,
for a season, a perfect freedom from the ordinary restraints and
responsibilities of social life. Leaving care, and business, and the world
behind, and committing my little all to the favoring smiles of an
omnipresent Providence, I threaded my way through the circuitous windings
of that romantic stream, with a resolute purpose to enjoy every thing, and
be annoyed at nothing, however strange it might be. This disposition is
essential to the comfort of the traveller, in any strange land, and
especially in one that is barbarous, or semi-civilized; and, under whatever
circumstances it is put in requisition, it is its own sufficient reward.

The river Panuco rises among the lakes near the city of Mexico, and winds
its meandering way, under several different names, the principal of which
is "Canada," till it debouches into the Gulf of Mexico, six miles below
Tampico. It is navigable about one hundred and forty miles, for all vessels
that can pass the bar at its mouth; and yet, owing to its circuitous
course, the distance _by land_, from this head of navigation to Tampico, is
not more than forty miles. The river seldom swells so as to overflow its
banks. The land, on either side, was found, on examination, to be a deep,
rich loam, capable of producing corn, sugar, tobacco and rice. The sugar
cane found in this region is extremely productive. It grows in height from
fourteen to twenty feet, and requires re-planting but once in nine or ten
years. It will be a glorious region for amateur planters and speculators,
when "the area of freedom" shall have extended to the Isthmus of Panama.
Ebony, rose-wood, dye-woods of various kinds, and sarsaparilla, are cut
here in great abundance, and are important articles of exportation.

The banks of this river, though beautifully arrayed in the verdure of
nature, want that humanizing interest, that peculiar utilitarian charm,
which cultivation and occupation alone can impart. Our progress, therefore,
though always presenting something new to the eye, seemed comparatively
slow and tedious, with little of life, but that which we carried along with
us, to disturb its quiet monotony.

As the evening of the first day was setting in, we stopped at a brick yard,
the property of two enterprising kind-hearted Americans, by whom we were
hospitably entertained, and who informed us that our day's journey had been
made, by travelling a distance of eighteen miles. The new town of Santa
Anna de Tamaulipas, brought into requisition, and gave employment to many
of our countrymen. And, when the making of brick became lucrative, our
good-natured hosts determined to lose no time in taking advantage of the
occasion. The adventure was accordingly made, and a few years' thrift has
placed their affairs in a hopeful and healthy condition. But, like all
other foreigners in this country, they are heartily tired of remaining
here, and are looking forward with much anxiety to the happy day, when they
shall be enabled to return to their native land; for, such are the decrees
of the government, that, in direct violation of treaty, an open warfare is
kept up against the rights and interests of all emigrants,--but, more
particularly, those from the United States,--many of whom are sacrificing
their property and prospects of affluence, and leaving the country in utter
disgust.

Early the following morning, we proceeded on our course up the river,
stopping, occasionally, to visit the rude huts of the Indians. The huts are
formed principally of mud, with thatched roofs, and present a most
uncomfortable appearance; whilst the poor, degenerated occupants, derive a
mean and scanty support, from a small strip of land along the banks of the
river, their chief object being the cultivation of corn for their own use.
Pieces of clay, put rudely together and baked, are the common utensils for
cooking their food; and a few upright sticks or reeds, driven into the mud
floor, with a hide stretched over them, constitute their most luxurious
bed. Indolent and filthy, they work only to meet their own immediate wants;
and, so degraded is their condition, that gaming and cock-fighting are
their principal pastimes. The inebriating bowl, also, is eagerly sought by
them, and a large portion of their earnings is spent in this riotous way,
even under the guidance of their priests, at the celebration of a marriage,
or on the occasion of a christening.

The Indians of Central America, bear as little resemblance to those of our
country generally, as the Spaniards among whom they dwell do, to us. They
do not, in any place, live by themselves, as independent tribes. They have
no peculiar habits of life, or of warfare--no hunting--no sports peculiar
to themselves--and none of the customs of their ancestors preserved, to
distinguish them from the mass of people about them. It is only their
complexion, their poverty, and generally degraded condition, that marks the
difference between them and their neighbors. They occupy nearly the same
position there, as the free blacks do in the United States, with this
difference in favor of the latter--that there is nothing in the spirit of
our institutions, civil, _or religious_, that prevents them from attaining
a respectable education, and a comfortable independence.

[Illustration: AN INDIAN MAN AND WOMAN.]

Ordinarily, the men wear trousers,--sometimes shirts of cotton,--but, in
many parts of the country, owing to the prohibition of certain qualities
and textures, this luxury is fast disappearing, and the more primitive
dress of _skins_ is taking its place. The _rebosa_, a narrow scarf, thrown
over the head and shoulders, is indispensable to females. No matter what
constitutes the other portion of their covering, even though, as is
oftentimes the case, their wardrobe is so scanty as scarcely to cover their
limbs, yet this is considered paramount. On one occasion, I remember to
have seen a female, with a rebosa upon her head, which cost no less than
twenty-five dollars, whilst her body was miserably covered with a sort of
under garment, or petticoat, such as few of our common street beggars would
be willing to wear.

These people are of the usual color and stature of the Mexican Indians, but
not so finely formed as the majority of them are,--nor have they that good
expression, so prominent among the people of the southern portions of
Mexico. They seem, moreover, to be entirely destitute of that spirit of
religion, which their manifest appreciation of some religious rites, would
naturally lead us to expect. Altogether, they are the most unfavorable
specimen of the natives that have fallen under my observation.

Before night-fall of the second day of our voyage, we reached the mouth of
the Topila Creek, a distance of twenty miles from the brick-yard.
Continuing our course up that stream about three miles, we came to a
rancho, or cattle-farm, belong to a Mr. Coss, of Tampico, brother of the
celebrated general of Texan memory. Before I left Tampico, this gentleman
gave me a letter to his major-domo, a half-breed, who received us with
great attention. The letter being very explicit on the subject of
_accommodation_, I could not but fare well in this respect,--and it may
yet, perhaps, be gathered from the sequel, that I was treated more like a
prince than a common traveller.

Arriving at the place, we were ushered into a bamboo house, with mud walls,
and floors of the same primitive material. This house contained no less
than two apartments. One of these, sustained the distinguished appellation
of "_the lady's room_"--and it was now my privilege to become its _sole_
occupant. In one corner of the room, stood a bedstead, without bed or
bedding; and a dressing-table, decorated with sundry condemned combs,
oil-bottles, scissors and patches, occupied another; whilst a demijohn of
aguardiente, and other interesting ornaments, such as saddles, guns, and
swords, filled up the picture. However, as I intended to make this place my
head-quarters, while exploring the hills and river banks in the
neighborhood, I at once resolved to be satisfied with "the lady's room,"
and such other good things as the place afforded. Accordingly, at an early
hour, I spread out my blanket, and retired for the night;--"deep into the
darkness peering--long I lay there, fondly dreaming," as before observed,
that I was "alone in my glory."

But, alas! the soft reflections of dreamy hours were disturbed by an
unexpected visit from a goodly number of well-disciplined, noxious little
animals, who introduced themselves to me in a most significant, yet
unceremonious manner. No remarks being made respecting the object of their
visit, I was left to infer, that the kindness of the major-domo had moved
him to organize a new company of lancers, for my especial benefit. After
many unsuccessful attempts to induce this unsolicited force to withdraw, my
attention was politely called to another quarter. Having been strongly
impressed, I was now fully convinced, of the immediate presence of sundry
young pigeons, many of whom, protected by their maternal parents, were
perched in the crevices of the wall over my head. These, together with the
game fowls, setting under my bed, contributed much to destroy that
confidence which, until now had not been disturbed, that I had actually
secured the undivided occupancy of that unique apartment. Of course, it was
unnecessary to arouse me in the morning.

Before sunrise, I found myself well equipped for the explorations of the
day. The mules being in readiness, I started in company with a guide, and
rode five miles to another rancho, where, as I was informed, there lived an
Indian upwards of a hundred years of age. I found him, to my surprise, a
hale and sturdy man--though he could give me no intelligence respecting the
objects of my research. Indeed, so suspicious are these people of the
designs of strangers, that it was with the utmost difficulty I could
convince him, as well as others, that my only motive in visiting the
country, was to acquaint myself with the ancient places of their
forefathers; not, as they supposed, to roam in quest of gold and silver
mines.

Supposing that, in a man so much beyond the ordinary limit of human life,
whose memory might extend back almost one-third of the way to the era of
the Spanish conquest, and who was now in the full possession of his
faculties, I had found a rare and enviable opportunity to pry into the
mysteries of the past, and learn something of the history of the remarkable
people, who once occupied this whole region, and filled it with monuments
of their genius, taste, and power;--I employed all my ingenuity to draw out
of him whatever he knew. But it was pumping at an exhausted well. Of facts,
of history, in any form, he had nothing to tell. He seemed not to have a
thought that there was anything to be told, except one vague
unsatisfactory tradition, the only one existing among the inhabitants in
all this region, that once on a time--they have no conception when, whether
a hundred or a thousand years ago--"giants came from the North, as was
prophesied by the gods, killed and destroyed the people, and continued on
to the South." This tradition, bearing a strong analogy to one which
prevails among nearly all the aboriginal tribes of the Mississippi Valley,
and the wilds of the west, seems to be the only connecting link between the
present generation, and that mysteriously interesting blank--the
exterminated obliterated Past.

In the vicinity of this rancho, in an easterly direction from it, I found,
in several considerable mounds, the first traces of ancient art that had
greeted my eyes. One of these mounds was more than twenty-five feet in
height, and of a circular form. At its sides, a number of layers of small,
flat, well-hewn stones were still to be seen. Scattered about, in its
immediate neighborhood, were also many others of a larger size, and of
different forms. These had apparently once been used for the sides of
door-ways and lintels. They were perfectly plain, without any mark or sign
of ornament.

Upon this spot once stood one of those ancient Indian towns, the memorials
of whose departed greatness and glory are so often met with, in every part
of this interesting country. The ruins in this place are ruins indeed, so
dilapidated as not to afford, at the present time, the remotest clue to the
manners and customs of the builders, or the degree of civilization to which
they may have attained. I traversed the whole ground, as well as the rank
vegetation, and wild animals would permit, and found my way back to the
Topila at dark,--congratulating myself on having been able to accomplish so
much, in the way of exploration, with no other protection than the untanned
skin of an American, while that of a rhinoceros seemed absolutely necessary
to the undertaking; for both the animal and vegetable kingdoms appeared to
be combined against the intrusion of man.

On the morning of the next day, I set out with a party of Indians, on a
visit to the _Rancho de las Piedras_, distant about two leagues and a half,
in a south-east direction. We made our way, slowly, and wearily, as usual,
threading the thick wilds with much toil and fatigue, until we reached a
rise of land, or plateau, near a chain of hills running through this
section of country, and known as the Topila Hills. Here I found stones that
were once evidently used for buildings. Proceeding on our way, we came to
other and clearer evidences of ancient art. These were mounds, the sides of
which had been constructed of loose layers of smooth and uniform blocks of
concrete sandstone;--but most of the layers had fallen from their original
position, and were found in large masses near the elevation. The blocks of
stone, with a surface eighteen inches square, measured about six inches in
thickness, and appeared to have been laid without mortar, or other adhesive
material. I observed about twenty of these mounds, contiguous to each
other, and varying in height from six to twenty-five feet,--some being of a
circular, and others of a square form; but, unlike most of those found in
other parts of the country, they were not laid out with any degree of
regularity. On the top of one of the largest, there had evidently been a
terrace, though it was difficult, in its present dilapidated state, to
define its outlines, or judge of its extent.

The principal elevation covers an area of about two acres. At the base of
this mound, was a slab of stone about seven inches in thickness, well hewn,
and of a circular form, having a hole through the centre, and resting upon
a circular wall, or foundation, the top of which was level with the ground.
This stone measured four feet nine inches in diameter. On removing it, I
discovered a well, filled up with broken stone and fragments of pottery.
Stone coverings in wells have been found in the ancient works on the main
branches of Paint Creek, Ohio, bearing a strong resemblance to the one here
noticed; and it is also worthy of remark, that wells covered in this way,
strongly resemble the descriptions we have of those used in the patriarchal
ages. How much of an argument might be made, from such an isolated
circumstance as this, to confirm the opinion entertained by some able
writers, that the aboriginal inhabitants of America were the descendants of
Abraham, the lost ten tribes, who revolted under Rehoboam, the son of
Solomon, and were carried away into Assyria, I shall not undertake to
decide. Many a fair theory, however, has been erected upon a foundation no
broader than this, nor more substantial; and many a volume has been written
to sustain the shadowy fabric.

I should have stated above, that the upper side of the stone removed, bore
evidence of having been originally wrought with ornamental lines; but these
lines were so much obliterated by time and exposure to the weather, that
they could not now be traced.

On the top of this mound, a wild fig-tree, more than a hundred feet high,
grows luxuriantly, indicating by its size and age, that the mound on which
it stands, is not the work of modern builders.

The walls of the smaller mounds had invariably fallen inwards, a
circumstance which led to the conjecture that they had been used as burying
places. For, as the bones within would, in process of time, decay and
moulder into dust, the loose walls, having no cement to hold them together,
would gradually settle in upon the ashes of the dead. The ground for
several miles around, was strewn with loose hewn stones, of various shapes,
and broken pieces of pottery, evidently parts of household utensils; also,
fragments of obsidean, which no doubt had been used as the knives and
spears of a people, respecting whom, little is known at this day, except
that they were a warlike race, and far advanced in the arts of
civilization. The nearest point now known, where this mineral can be
obtained, is _Pelados_, near the Real del Monte, in the vicinity of the
city of Mexico. The celebrated "Mountain of Flints," which, though but
twenty-four miles in extent, cost the indefatigable Cortes, and his brave
band, twelve days of the most painful toil to surmount, lies still farther
off, in the south western part of Yucatan.

An incident of a somewhat startling character, which occured to me here,
while it illustrates another feature in the state of society in these
parts, and the character of the people whom the traveller sometimes has to
deal with, will serve to bring the present chapter to close; leaving the
interesting curiosities discovered among the ruins, and a yet more
thrilling adventure which befel me, to form the material for a separate
chapter.

It was evening. The day had been spent in rambling and climbing about the
time hallowed ruins of those old deserted cities, and searching among the
mouldering relics of antiquity, for something to identify the dead with the
living, or to serve as a satisfactory link between the past and the
present. My Indian comrades and myself were cosily discussing our forest
fare, each indulging in his own private reflections, and totally
unsuspicious of any interruption to our humble meal, when we were suddenly
surrounded by a band of those grim-looking, dark-bearded, heavily-whiskered
gentlemanly-looking like highwaymen, that infest almost every part of the
country. They immediately dismounted, and made us prisoners, seizing us by
the hand as if they would bind us, to prevent our escape. We made no
resistance, for we were unprepared for defence, and entirely at their
mercy. Here, now, was trouble enough. What a poor finale to my brief and
unprofitable adventures, to be murdered in cold blood by these merciless
banditti, or made a hopeless captive in some of their mountain fastnesses!
My position, feelings, and reflections, can be better imagined than
described.

Having surveyed us from crown to toe, with the utmost scrutiny, and
compared notes respecting our appearance, and the prospect of obtaining any
satisfaction in our blood, they drew forth from their bags--the huge and
fearful looking horse-pistol?--No. The long, glittering, keen-edged,
high-tempered dirk, drunk with the blood of numberless victims of their
rapacious cruelty?--No. The slender stiletto, so delicately formed, and so
exquisitely polished, as to insinuate itself into the vitals, ere the
parted epidermis had realized the rent it had made in passing?--No. The
savage cutlass?--the heavy, fierce-looking, trenchant broad-sword?--No. Not
these--nor any of them,--but, unexpected, and unheard of, even among
civilized highwaymen--they drew out an ample store of substantial food, and
invited us to partake of their supper. We did not shrink from their
professed hospitality. We made ourselves of their party for the moment, and
spent an hour, or more, in their company, with great glee, and with mutual
satisfaction--after which, they mounted and rode off, and we took to our
hammocks and our dreams.

By what token we escaped, I was not able to conjecture. Whether, as my
vanity might have suggested, it was to be attributed to my good looks, or
to my Spanish sombrero, flannel shirt, and bandolero air, or to the
influence of some propitious star, just then in the ascendant, is a mystery
yet to be explained. If I may have the same good fortune in escaping the
censure of the reader, upon whose patience these trifling sketches have
been inflicted, it will afford me a gratification that will far more than
overbalance all the pains and inconveniences that I have suffered, from
being brought into conflict with insects, wild beasts, and robbers.



CHAPTER VIII.

FURTHER EXPLORATION OF THE RUINS IN THE VICINITY OF THE RANCHO DE LAS
PIEDRAS.

     Situation of the Ruins.--Their probable antiquity.--A
     remarkable female head.--Description of it.--Where
     found.--Brought to New York.--Another head.--Difficulty of
     getting at it.--Its collossal proportions.--A particular
     description.--Indians disposed to leave me, but induced to
     remain.--The American Sphinx.--Description.--Conjectures of
     its origin and design.--Curiously ornamented head.--Its
     peculiar features.--Exploring the ruins a difficult
     work.--Annoyances.--Deserted by the Indians.--A delicate
     situation.--A fortunate escape.


These ruins are situated, as near as I could calculate with the primitive
instruments constructed for the occasion, in longitude 98° 31´ west, and
latitude 22° 9´ north, covering a space of several miles square, and have
every appearance of being the remains of a single town. The whole place is
completely covered with trees of the largest growth, so thickly
interspersed with the rankest vegetation, that even the sun, or daylight
itself, can scarcely find its way among them. So very dense and dark is the
forest, and so constant and extensive the decomposition of vegetable matter
going on beneath it, that it impregnates the whole region with a humid and
unwholesome atmosphere. It is true, that these circumstances have, in a
great degree, hastened the dilapidation of the works of human skill around;
but, nevertheless, they furnish indisputable evidence of the great
antiquity of those works.

[Illustration: FEMALE HEAD.]

Among these ruins, I found a remarkable head, which, with various other
relics of antiquity from the same interesting region, I had the honor of
depositing in the collection of the New York Historical Society. This head,
or rather face, a drawing of which I have the pleasure of here presenting
to the reader, resembles that of a female. It is beautifully cut from a
fine sandstone, of a dark reddish hue, which abounds in this vicinity. The
face, which is of the ordinary life size, stands out, in full relief, from
the rough block, as if it were in an unfinished state, or as if designed to
occupy a place among the ornamental work of a building. In several of its
features, the lines are decidedly Grecian, and the symmetry and beauty of
its proportions have been very much admired. How and where the artist may
have obtained his model, and how far the existence of it may be deemed to
confirm the statements of Plato and Aristotle, and favor the conjecture of
an early settlement on this continent by the Phoenician navigators, I
shall not now stay to inquire.

This striking figure I found, lying among vast piles of broken and
crumbling stones, the ruins of dilapidated buildings, which were strewed
over a vast space. It was in a remarkably good state of preservation,
except the nose, which was slightly mutilated; not sufficiently so,
however, to lose its uniformity, or destroy the beautiful symmetry of its
proportions. The fillet, or band of the head-dress, which conceals the
frontal developments, is unlike any thing found among the sculptured
remains in this country, or worn by any of the native tribes.

On discovering this remarkable piece of sculpture--remarkable considering
the place where it was found--I immediately commenced making a drawing of
it. But, before completing the sketch, I was so struck with its singular
beauty and perfection, that I determined to lay violent hands on it, and
bring it away with me; fearing that a mere drawing would not be sufficient
evidence, to the incredulous world, of the existence of such a piece of
work among the ruins of places, which had been built and peopled, according
to the commonly received opinion, by a race of semi-barbarians. It was a
work of no little labor and difficulty to secure it. But I finally
succeeded in giving it a comfortable and a safe lodgment on the back of my
mule, and so brought it to the bank of the river, where I em_bark_ed it in
a canoe. It had several narrow escapes by the way, but was, at length,
safely landed in New York.

[Illustration: COLOSSAL HEAD.]

I also discovered among the rubbish, in this place, and not far from the
spot where the above described Grecian head was found, another large
stone, with a head well sculptured upon its surface, in bold relief, as
represented in the accompanying engraving. It was buried up in a mass of
superincumbent ruins, and was only brought to light in the course of my
laborious excavations. On removing the loose stones and dust which covered
it--the labor of nearly a whole day--it stood as represented in the sketch.
The face was not so finely chiselled, nor had it the same regular classic
beauty of feature and proportion, as the one first seen and described; but
still there is much in its general appearance to attract attention. It is
different from any thing heretofore discovered on this side of the
Atlantic. The features, like those of the head which I brought away with
me, are decidedly those of the Caucasian race, bearing no resemblance to
those of any of the tribes on this continent. The ears are rather large,
and the hair is represented rather by a series of regular flutings, than by
any attempt at the wavy lines, which are ordinarily deemed essential to
grace in this capital ornament. A band, or collar, passes round from the
back of the neck, close to, and supporting the face, and meeting in a
point, a few inches below the chin.

The stone on which this figure was cut was circular, twelve feet in
diameter, and three in thickness. The head, covering more than half its
area, was of course of colossal proportions. The periphery of this mighty
wheel was geometrically accurate and regular, and smoothly chiselled off,
and would have served well, in ancient times, to fulfil the tartarean
destiny of Sisyphus, or, in these modern times, for a Yankee mill-stone. It
was a laborious task to clear away the stones and dirt that had been
accumulating about it, perhaps for ages. But the sight of it, when placed
in an upright position, amply repaid me for all the toil and fatigue, which
it cost me to effect it.

It was only with the greatest difficulty that I could keep my Indian allies
at work. The influence of presents and coaxing was exhausted, long before I
had attained my purpose with regard to this colossal figure-head. I then
turned preacher, and addressed myself to their superstitious notions with
some effect; calling up my little stock of proverbial wisdom, to stimulate
them to new exertions, and giving them to understand that I expected to
find something better than loose and broken stones, in turning up the soil,
and rummaging among the ruined sepulchres of the departed. They did not
comprehend the drift of my oracular discourse; but, like many other
sermons, too profound for the comprehension of the hearers, it increased
their reverence for the preacher, and made them more submissive to my
orders.

The next object which arrested my attention, was one, the sight of which
carried back my imagination to ages of classic interest, and to the marvels
of human art and power, on the banks of the river of Egypt. It was not
perhaps a Sphinx, in the language of the critical and fastidious
antiquarian; but sure I am, that no one, however scrupulous for the honor
of oriental antiquities, could see it, without being strongly reminded of
the fabulous monster of Thebes, and secretly wishing that he was so far an
Oedipus, as to be able to solve the inexplicable riddle of its origin and
design. It was the figure, as represented in the accompanying engraving, of
a mammoth _turtle_, with the head of a man boldly protruded from under its
gigantic shell. The figure of the amphibious monster measured over six feet
in length, with a proportional width, and rested upon a huge block of
concrete sandstone. The back was correctly and artistically wrought,
displaying the exact form, and all the scale lines of the turtle in good
proportion. There were also, in many parts distinctly visible, fainter
lines, to show that the peculiar arabesque of that ornamental shield had
not been overlooked by the artist.

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN SPHINX.]

All the other parts were equally true to nature. It was much broken and
mutilated, especially the human protuberance; but not sufficiently so to
destroy the evidences of the skill with which it had been designed, and of
the masterly workmanship with which it had been wrought. This head must,
originally, have been an unusually fine specimen of ancient American art.
Like all the others found in this region, it has the Caucasian outline and
contour, and in its finish and expression, is strongly marked with the
unmistakable impress of genius. It is rare, among these works, to meet with
an entire head, like this. They are generally half buried in the rock from
which they were hewn, as if designed to be placed in some conspicuous
position in the façade, or interior wall of a building. This work gives the
head complete, and the posterior developments of the cranium, as the
phrenologist would say, are those of an intellectual and moral cast--that
is to say, they are quite subordinate to the frontal developments. The
forehead was originally high and broad, though the mutilated appearance of
the upper part, as given in the plate, would leave a different impression.
The nose, as far as it remains is beautifully shaped and finely chiselled,
as are also the lips, the chin, and the ears.

It is only for me to describe things as I saw them, leaving it to others,
more profound than myself in antiquarian researches, to frame appropriate
theories for their explanation. But I could not avoid the temptation to
pause a little over this singular curiosity, with a lurking disposition to
catechise conjecture, respecting its probable signification and end. But it
was all in vain--a mere reverie of guess-work, without beginning or clue.
Whether it was the offspring of a simple freak of the imagination of the
artist;--whether it was one of the symbols of the worship of that unknown
race, for whom the artist exercised his unholy craft of making "gods which
are yet no gods;"--whether it was a quaint hieroglyphical memorial of some
remarkable epoch in their history--some luckless Jonah half swallowed by a
turtle, and for ever struggling to escape;--whether it was the emblematic
device of a club of artistic gourmands, the sign to be placed over the door
of their banqueting hall, designed to acknowledge and illustrate the
intimate union and sympathy, the identity of nature, between man and beast,
in those who "make a god of their belly;"--these are alternatives of
conjecture, upon which we may speculate as we will, but from which it is
neither safe nor easy to make a definite choice.

The probable history and design of "the American Sphinx"--for such I have
taken the liberty to name it--will, I trust, be made a matter of more sober
and successful enquiry by some future traveller, more skilled than I can
profess to be in antiquarian researches. It is an ample field, strewn on
every side with subjects of the deepest interest. And he who shall first,
by means of these only records that remain, scattered, disconnected, and
crumbling into hopeless decay, decypher some legible tale of probability,
and unravel a leading clue to the history of these now inexplicable relics,
will win and deserve the admiring gratitude of all, who are curious to
investigate the ever changing aspects of human society.

I had scarcely met with any thing, in all my rambles, more full of exciting
interest, than the field I was now exploring; and I never so much regretted
being alone. For a well read antiquarian to talk with--for a curioso in
hieroglyphical lore to trace out the mystic lines, and give an intelligent
signification to the grotesque images about me--I would have given my last
maravedi, and the better half of my humble stock of provisions. Fragments
of various kinds, and of every size and form, lay scattered around me, on
every side, in the immediate vicinity of this "American Sphinx," affording
in their shapes, though mutilated and imperfect, and in the lines of
sculpture still traceable upon many of them, satisfactory _prima facie_
evidence of having once composed the ornamental decorations of immense and
splendid edifices, which now lay in utter ruins at my feet.

The place where I stood had evidently been the site of a large city,
thronged with busy multitudes of human beings, whose minds were cultivated
and refined, whose hearts throbbed high with human affections, and human
hopes, and who doubtless dreamed, as we do, that their works would make
their names immortal. But where are they? A thousand echoes, from the hills
and walls around, answer--_where_?

[Illustration: AN ORNAMENTED HEAD.]

Proceeding with my excavations, and turning over large masses of earth, and
stones of every size and shape, I was at length rewarded with the discovery
of another figure, somewhat resembling, but in many respects unlike, those
which I have already shown. A sketch of it is given in the above engraving.
It was merely the face, standing out in full relief from the block, which
was entirely cut away from the top and bottom, but left, in two nearly
circular projections, at the sides. The head ornaments are striking and
peculiar. They are not, as might be supposed from their appearance in the
reduced scale of the engraving, miniature heads. If they were, I should
venture to find in them another item of Grecian mythology, and boldly
assume that the head was that of Jupiter, with three young Minervas in the
act of issuing from his pregnant brain. Nor would the appearance of three,
instead of one, in any manner stagger my faith, since it is well known,
that America exceeds all other parts of the world in human and animal
fecundity, as well as in the fertility of its soil. And why not equally so
in its mythological reproductions? But, alas! for one of the most promising
theories that ever was conceived, these ornaments are only balls, with
slight indentations, connected together by a band running across the top of
the head, and terminating at the sides, just above the ears. A phrenologist
might possibly discern in them, the overgrown diseased developments of the
intellectual organs residing in that part of the cranium.

The ears of this figure are monstrous, being nearly half the size of the
face. The features, and the whole contour of the face, like the other two,
will be seen to be entirely Caucasian, having no element of the Indian or
American, in any of its lines. It is seventeen inches in length, twenty one
in breadth, including the huge ears, and ten in thickness. It was found in
the side of a large pile of ruins, the remains of dilapidated walls and
buildings, of which it had evidently formed one of the ornamental parts.
There were fragments of others of the same general character, but none in
so good preservation as this, which require a distinct description.

It required but a few days to examine this part of the country,--and I was
really glad when the time expired;--for, besides the immense labor of
cutting every step of our way through a dense shrubbery, which covers most
of the country, and a wilderness of trees and thickets, matted and woven
together with thousands of creepers, together with plants, rendered almost
impenetrable by their thorns, which, like spears, would pierce at every
movement,--we had also to contend with myriads of insects of which the
reading world has already heard so much from learned travellers, that it
might be deemed a work of supererogation to speak of them again, and which,
it will be observed are herein named, only in connection with other
obstacles of greater magnitude,--such as the poisonous tarantula, which is
often disturbed from its stony bed, and the tiger of the country, sometimes
started from the thickets! But, to be _deserted_ in this extremity, is a
thing not easily to be borne. Yet so it was. My recently enlisted Indian
comrades, being entirely out-done and astonished, gave me up as a wild or
crazy man, and fled to their homes! Thus forsaken,--but not until after a
week of research, I returned in safety to "the lady's room," where I found
my Indian allies had arrived some days before me.

While pursuing my solitary researches, after my aids had absconded, I was
obliged to satisfy myself with such objects of curiosity as lay upon the
surface, without any effort to remove obstructions, or excavate among the
ruins. There was little to be gained in this way. Moreover, as I have
hinted above, there was much discomfort, and no little danger, in remaining
alone, as will be seen by the following incident.

[Illustration: A SITUATION.]

I had swung my hammock, as usual, between two trees, and, having lighted my
watch-fires in the open space around, had passed a comfortable night, with
no other intrusion than dreams of home, and the musical hum of musquitoes.
Very early in the morning, I was startled by a rustling in the thicket near
by. Lifting myself up, in some alarm, I was by no means gratified, or
quieted, by the appearance of a full grown tiger, creeping stealthily along
through the rank growth of grass and weeds, which skirted the thicket, and
peering at me, as if he had not yet provided himself a breakfast. Happily,
my fires were still burning, and the sight of them brought the intruder to
a pause. I seized my gun, and made ready to give him the best reception in
my power, in case he should show any disposition to cultivate a further
acquaintance. In this situation, certainly not very agreeable to me,
whatever it might have been to my unwelcome forest visitor, we remained
more than two hours, intently eyeing each other, as if preparing for the
deadly contest. They were hours of as painful and absorbing suspense, as
any that I ever experienced. I had little doubt that one or the other of us
must fall a sacrifice to this ill considered and unexpected meeting. But I
was disappointed. Whether it was want of appetite, or a disrelish for the
smoke of my watch-fires, or an instinctive apprehension of other fires, and
a more distasteful smoke, in reserve for him, I know not, and did not care
to ask him. But, after several times changing his position from side to
side, as if seeking a favorable point of attack, he slunk away, as
cautiously as he came, turning wistfully round several times, in his
retreat, as if half resolved not to leave me, or somewhat suspicious that
his escape would be interrupted. I had many misgivings about his return
during the day, feeling that I would rather risk such a meeting in my
hammock, guarded by the watch-fires, than in my solitary and unprotected
rambles through the forest.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

VISIT TO THE ANCIENT TOWN OF PANUCO. RUINS. CURIOUS RELICS FOUND THERE.

     The route.--Scenery.--The wild Fig Tree.--Panuco.--Its
     history.--Present appearance of the town.--Language.--Ruins
     in the vicinity.--Discovery of the sepulchral
     effigy.--Description of it.--Situation in which it was
     found.--Resemblance to figures on the tomb of the Knights
     Templar.--A conjecture.--An influence.--A
     conclusion.--Extensive ruins of Cerro Chacuaco, and other
     places.--Vases found there.--Probably of modern date.


During my sojourn in the interior, I made another exploring excursion, in
order to visit the ancient town of Panuco; where I was received with the
greatest kindness and hospitality, both by the white and the half-breed
inhabitants of the place. My route lay along the banks of the river, and
across the prairies; the common road being by a bridle path, through the
woods, and never successfully travelled, but with the greatest care and
watchfulness. The ranchos and milpas, (small farms) assumed a better
appearance than was expected; and we passed several fields of ripe corn and
cane, owned principally, by Indians. But even here, every thing, whether
Indian or Mexican, wears a primitive look.

Proceeding up the river, which retained its width of half a mile, we found
the scenery on either side continually improving as we went, and opening
new views of the most picturesque and romantic beauty. I visited many of
the Indian huts that lay in our way, the occupants of which were very
civil; but it was quite impossible here, as in other places, to convince
the people, that acquisition of _gold_ was not the object of my visit,--a
circumstance which may, perhaps, in some degree, account for the fact, that
I could obtain from them so little information respecting the neighboring
country.

The wild fig-tree, which bears a small fruit, resembling that of the
cultivated tree in Louisiana, grows here to a vast extent and beauty,
having, from its wide-spreading branches, suckers, which hang down and
touch the ground, where they take root and grow in size equal to the
original trunk,--thus giving to the tree, the appearance of a frame house
with supporters and rafters. This beautiful tree also resembles the Banyan
of South America, and belongs to that class.

There are, likewise, in this vicinity, many other trees of curious and rare
growth, some of which, being filled with fruit and blossoms at the same
time, present a most unusual and pleasing appearance. Others, adorned with
parasitical plants, intertwined with graceful vines and fragrant with
flowers, afford a paradise for birds of the most brilliant plumage, and
give indescribable richness and beauty to the scene.

Panuco is an old town of the _Huestacos_, and is subject to occasional
inundations during the rainy season. According to Bernal Diaz, this is the
place conquered by Cortes, at so great an expense of life and treasure. At
the period of the conquest, this was a position of much consequence, as may
be inferred from the fact, that the conqueror petitioned Charles the Fifth
to add its government to that of New Spain. This request being granted, a
garrison was accordingly placed there, and commended to the guardian care
of _St. Stephen_,--a name which holds its influence there to the present
day. It was the powerful and heroic race of the Huestacos that once dwelt
here; a race so hated by the ruthless invaders of Mexico, that, if they had
had power to accomplish their fiendish desire, not a vestige of that noble
people would have been found remaining. But, even the wasting influences of
time, and that desolating bigotry which rioted in the destruction of every
thing that was not consecrated, or, more properly speaking, desecrated to
the idolatry of Rome, has not been found sufficient to destroy the marks of
their genius, or entirely to obliterate the memory of their deeds, and the
monuments of their greatness. The remains of pyramids, dwellings, household
utensils, ornaments and weapons, all tend to convince me that the arts once
flourished upon the spot, where now dwells a listless, idle race of
Mexicans, retrograding as the year rolls on, even more rapidly than the
decay of the ruins around them.

Panuco is the only town above Tampico, on the Panuco River, and contains
only about four thousand inhabitants. It is beautifully located on the
banks of the river, in the state of Vera Cruz, about thirty leagues from
Tampico, by water, and fifteen by land. It is not laid out with any degree
of regularity. The streets of the town look deserted, and wear a
melancholy aspect. The houses are of bamboo, with mud walls, which have
been once apparently white-washed, and thatched roofs. There are no public
buildings, little or no business, and only a few shops, established chiefly
for the sale of intoxicating liquors.

The language spoken by the Indians, in this region, might, with much
propriety, be termed an amalgamation of many different dialects, in which
that of the Huestaco predominates. Father Tapia Zenteno, made an effort to
render it into form;--but, he did not succeed very well,--the confusion of
tongues being more than a match for his etymological skill. Indeed, I
imagine there are few in this region, who would not faint under the task.
It might well be taken for a modern representation of Babel, or, perhaps,
for an abortive attempt to harmonize the discordant elements of that
ancient Pandemonium of Tongues.

The learned Mr. Gallatin, the venerable president of the "New York
Historical Society," and of the "Ethnological Society of New York," has
recently published in the "Proceedings" of the last mentioned body, a
dissertation, in which he shows conclusively, that the languages of North
and Central America, belong, grammatically, to the same family, however
much they may differ in words.

We have reason to be grateful, that the researches of the Antiquarian in
our own country, have furnished the lovers of Ethnological lore, with much
valuable material for the development of a science which has, within a few
short years, arrived at an eminent degree of importance.

[Illustration: SEPULCHRAL EFFIGY.]

In the vicinity of the town of Panuco, are ruins of ancient places,
scattered over an area of several miles. Their history is entirely unknown
to the inhabitants; nor do any of them, as far as I could learn, manifest
the slightest curiosity to ascertain who were the builders, or in what
manner they have been exterminated from their ancient inheritance. I could
not discover the trace of a tradition, or conjecture, on the subject, among
any of the people, though I sought for it with great diligence.

Several days were employed in exploring this neighborhood, our toils being
lightened, occasionally, by the discovery of things new and strange. Among
the rest, there was one, which I deem a very remarkable curiosity; so much
so, that I shall satisfy myself with presenting that to the reader, as the
sole representative of the ruins of this interesting spot. It was a
handsome block, or slab of stone, of this form,

[Illustration]

measuring seven feet in length, with an average of nearly two and a half in
width, and one foot in thickness. Upon its face, was beautifully wrought,
in bold relief, the full length figure of a man, in a loose robe, with a
girdle about his loins, his arms crossed on his breast, his head encased in
a close cap, or casque, resembling the Roman helmet, (as represented in the
etchings of Pinelli,) without the crest, and his feet and ankles bound with
the ties of sandals.

The edges of this block were ornamented with a plain raised border, about
an inch and a half square, making a very neat and appropriate finish to the
whole. The execution was equal to that of the very best that I have seen
among the wonderful relics of this country, and would reflect no discredit
upon the artists of the old world. Indeed, I doubt not, that the discovery
of such a relic among the ruined cities of Italy or Egypt, would send a
thrill of unwonted delight and surprise through all the marvel-hunting
circles, and literary clubs, of Europe, and make the fortune of the
discoverer. The figure is that of a tall, muscular man, of the finest
proportions. The face, in all its features, is of the noblest class of the
European, or Caucasian race. The robe is represented as made with full
sleeves, and falling a little below the knees, exposes the fine proportions
of the lower limbs.

This block, which I regarded with unusual interest, and would by all means
have brought away with me, if it had been in my power, I found lying on the
side of a ravine, partially resting upon the dilapidated walls of an
ancient sepulchre, of which nothing now remains but a loose pile of hewn
stones. It was somewhat more than four feet below the present surface of
the ground, and was brought to light in the course of my excavations,
having accidently discovered a corner of the slab, and the loose stones
about it, which were laid open by the rush of waters in the rainy season,
breaking out a new and deep channel to the river. The earth that lay upon
it was not an artificial covering. It bore every evidence of being the
natural accumulation of time; and a very long course of years must have
been requisite to give it so deep a burial.

I caused the stone to be raised, and placed in a good position for drawing.
The engraving on the opposite page is a correct and faithful sketch of this
wonder of ancient American art, as I left it. Those of my readers who have
visited Europe, will not fail to notice a resemblance between this, and the
stones that cover the tombs of the Knights Templar, in some of the ancient
churches of the old world. It must not be supposed, however strongly the
prima facie evidence of the case may seem to favor the conjecture, that
this resemblance affords any conclusive proof, that the work is of European
origin, or of modern date. The material is the same as that of all the
buildings, and works of art, in this vicinity, and the style and
workmanship are those of the great unknown artists of the Western
Hemisphere.

According to Gomara, it was customary with the ancient Americans, to place
the figure of a deceased king on the "chest" in which his ashes were
deposited. Is it improbable, when we take into view the progress which the
arts had made among these unknown nations, as evinced by the ruins I have
recently visited, and others scattered over all this region, that this
"chest" was sometimes, nay generally, of stone? That it was in fact, in the
language of oriental antiquity, a sarcophagus? And is it not possible, that
the tablet which I have here brought to light, is that of one of the
monarchs of that unknown race, by whom all these works were constructed? I
am strongly of opinion that it is so, and that a further and deeper
exploration in the same vicinity, would discover other relics of the same
kind, and open to the view of the explorer, the royal cemetery of one of
the powerful nations of Anahuac.

If I am justified in this conjecture,--and it is impossible to convey to
the reader any adequate impression of the collateral and incidental
evidences, which, to one on the spot, spring up at every step, to give
color and support to such a conjecture,--then may I venture one step
farther, and infer that the ruins of this vicinity, are those of a capital
city, a royal residence of one of those ancient empires--the seat of its
court--the place of the sepulchres of its kings. There is nothing either in
the magnitude and extent of the ruins, or in the traces of elaborate art
expended in their construction and finish, to throw a shade over such an
inference. The area occupied by them is sufficiently vast for the
metropolis of any empire, ancient or modern. The ruins are those which
might have belonged to palaces and temples, as magnificent and extensive as
any that have yet been discovered in the Western World. The style and
finish of those that are sufficiently preserved to justify an opinion, are
as elaborate and complete, as the most perfect specimens of ancient
American art that have fallen under my observation. While the evidences are
not slight, that a vast area of similar remains lies buried under the soil,
which, for ages has been accumulating upon them, by natural deposit during
the rainy seasons, and the gradual abrasion of the adjacent mountains.

If the above inference be deemed admissible, it cannot be thought
extravagant to conclude, that these ruins are of very ancient date, and
belong to the history of a people, much older than any respecting whom we
have any authentic records--a people who had probably passed away before
the era of the Spanish conquest. It seems to me impossible to come to any
other conclusion. And I cannot avoid expressing my surprise, at the
apparent ease with which some writers have arrived at a different result.
As an argument on the subject may not be acceptable to all my readers, I
will not cumber this part of the work with any further speculations, but
reserve them for a closing chapter, which can be omitted by those whose
minds are made up, or who do not feel interested to go below the surface,
in order to unravel the enigmas of time.

There are other ruins, situated south of Panuco, at the distance of about
three leagues. They are known as the ruins of "Cerro Chacuaco." They are
represented as covering an extent of about three leagues square, with
unquestionable evidence that they were all comprised within the bounds of
one vast city. I may also mention those of "San Nicholas," distant five
leagues on the south west, and those of "A la Trinidad," about six leagues
in nearly the same direction. There are also other ruins, of which I
obtained some information, at a still greater distance. Indeed, it would
appear that the whole region is full of them, on every side--melancholy
memorials of the immense numbers, as well as of the mighty power and wealth
of the ill-fated race, that once flourished here. As far as I could rely
upon the information received, all these ruins present the same general
features, as those which I have already described. It is probable that they
all belong to the same period, and were built by the same race; and the
evidence is clear to my mind, that that race was much more ancient, and
further advanced in the arts of civilized life, than any of the American
races now remaining, or any whose history has come down to us.

It was among the ruins of "Cerro Chacuaco," that the two vases represented
below, were found. They are made of the common clay of the country, well
wrought and handsomely formed, and could not have been made as they are,
without some mechanical contrivance. The head on the first and larger one
is decidedly that of the negro, with low, retreating forehead, flat nose,
and thick lips. From this circumstance, I should judge it to be of recent
origin, as there is no evidence that any of the African race were ever
found in America, till they were introduced there as slaves in the
sixteenth century. The natives, degraded as they are at the present day,
are not unskilful in the manufacture of pottery, for common uses; and
these, though of a higher finish than any that I have seen there, might
have been lost, or left among the ruins, by some passing traveller. I am
the more inclined to this opinion, from the circumstance that the people
here take no interest whatever in examining the ruins, and would never
think of going beneath the surface, to find anything that might be buried
under them. I therefore conclude that these must have been found in some
open place, above ground, where they could not have lain many years,
without crumbling into decay.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X.

DISCOVERY OF TALISMANIC PENATES.--RETURN BY NIGHT TO TAMPICO.

     Speculations upon the images.--Superstitious reliance of the
     natives upon them in seasons of sickness.--Blending of
     idolatries.--Clue to the solution of a great
     problem.--Far-fetched theories.--The New World peopled from
     the Old.--Similarity in the objects and forms of worship,
     good evidence of similarity of origin.--Peculiar ugliness
     and obesity of many of the idols of Asia.--Ugnee, of
     Hindostan.--Gan, of China.--Fottei, of Japan.--Conclusion to
     be drawn from these facts.--Confirmed by the claims of the
     Chinese to the first discovery of America.--Still further by
     the analogy between the languages of America and those of
     Tartary.--Predilection of idolatry for ugliness.--Return by
     night to Tampico.--Rumors of war.--French retailers.--Mexico
     backing out.


In the course of my explorations among these interesting and melancholy
relics of by-gone ages, I discovered two very singular and grotesque
looking images, which have given rise to no little speculation in my own
mind. I have the pleasure of presenting, at the close of the chapter,
correct drawings of these to the reader. The originals are deposited in the
museum of the New York Historical Society. I had little doubt, when I
discovered these images, that they once figured in the idolatrous worship
of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country; but what place to assign them
in that mysterious Pandemonium,--whether to call them god or devil, whether
to class them with the deities that preside over the affections, or to give
them rank with those of a more intellectual character, I have been utterly
at a loss to conjecture. I have been somewhat inclined, of late, to lean to
the opinion that they belong to the former class, as I found images of the
same kind in use among the Indian women, who wore them suspended about
their necks, and attributed to them something like a talismanic influence.
They are especially relied upon in seasons of sickness,--but, whether
supposed to have power to frighten away, by their pre-eminent ugliness, the
ugliest shapes of disease, or to conciliate the genius of health, by
awakening his sympathies for the dreadful ills which flesh is heir to, and
the monstrous deformities in human frame, which are often the result of
disease,--or whether the contemplation of them is intended to sustain and
solace the sufferer, in any condition, however lamentable and hideous, to
which she may have been reduced, by keeping continually before her eyes the
representation of one more hideous and lamentable still, I was not able to
determine; nor is it, perhaps, material to the interests of science or
religion, or the melioration of suffering humanity in a more enlightened
age, and among more civilized races of men, that this point should be
settled beyond the possibility of a doubt; since it is by no means
probable, even if it could be proved, by the most incontestable evidence of
numberless personal certificates, and well authenticated cases of positive
relief, or almost miraculous cures, that the ladies of our day, and in our
highly favored country, could be induced to substitute them for the
infallible, health-imparting, life-restoring panaceas, catholicons,
medicated lozenges, sugar-crusted pills, vegetable anodyne restoratives,
medicinal rejuvenescent cordials, magnetic rings, _et id omnes genus_,
whose name is legion, promising immortal life and beauty to all who are so
fortunate as to secure a seasonable share of their influence. It was not
with any view to set up an opposition to this well disciplined army of the
inveterate and the veteran enemies to the continued reign of death and
disease in our world, that I brought home with me some of these remarkable
images: nor is it with any hope of raising a successful competition with
regularly-educated, duly licensed and long established physicians, whether
of the old school or the new, whether they administer their homoeopathic
infinitesmals upon the point of a cambric needle, or shovel in their
allopathic doses by the cartload, that I have ventured upon this learned
and profound disquisition upon the remarkable discovery, which it was my
fortune to make. And I beg leave here to give due and solemn notice to all
the world, that, if this singular accident should chance to be the means of
introducing a new epoch in American therapeutics, I hold myself, my heirs,
executors, administrators and assigns, utterly and for ever exempt from all
and singular the consequences and results thereof.

In the present use of these talismanic images, there is a very singular,
and, I am inclined to think, an unexampled blending of the old pagan
idolatry of the Indians, with the image worship of their newly adopted
religion. They are all, as the reader is no doubt aware, regarded as
converts to the Christian religion, under the instruction of the Priests of
the Church of Rome. They are, for the most part, very scrupulous in
observing all the customs and requirements of that church. The images I
here refer to are hollow, with a small aperture near one of the shoulders.
They are filled with balls, about as large as an ordinary pea, which are
supposed to have been made of the ashes of victims sacrificed, in former
days, to these gods. In this manner they were consecrated to demon-worship.
Whether, in their present accommodation to a species of Christian idolatry,
these balls are regarded as a substitute for "beads," or as "relics" of
martyrs to a faith in an "unknown god" and an unknown form of worship, I am
unable to say. I only know that the images, with their contents, are
regarded with a profoundly superstitious interest, and relied upon in
seasons of peculiar peril.

It may, perhaps, be thought, that I am making too much capital out of a
very trifling circumstance, if I should say, that in the course of my
meditations upon these ugly little demons, I imagined I had found in them,
the means of solving one of the great problems which have divided and
perplexed philosophers, ever since the discovery of our continent. But I
deny "the soft impeachment;" I protest strenuously against the unkind
imputation. If the falling of an apple led Sir Isaac Newton to the
discovery of one of the great first principles and fundamental laws of
nature,--if the clattering of the lid of his mother's tea-kettle, unfolded
to the inquisitive mind of Watt, the powers and mysteries of _steam_, that
semi-omnipotent agent in the affairs of our little world,--if the earth's
profile, as sketched on the disc of the moon in an eclipse, convinced the
sagacious mind of Columbus, that he could get round on the other side,
without danger of falling off,--who shall presume to say, that this
discovery of a pair of ugly little personages, belonging to the system of
idol divinities of an unknown race of people, will not prove to the
inquiring mind of some other, though less profound philosopher, the clue by
which the great mystery of their origin shall at length be effectually
solved?

I will not answer for it, that my theory in this case shall be as far
fetched, ingenious or elaborate, as many others that have gained the favor
and support of learned and worthy names. I only engage to make out as good
a case as some of my predecessors in the same wide field;--those, for
example, who have undertaken to show that the abroginal inhabitants of
America, are the descendants of Abraham and probably the lost ten tribes,
who were carried away into Assyria, in what is termed the first captivity
under Shalmaneser. These learned theorists have considered their case
fully, and incontestably made out, when they have discovered ten words in a
thousand of the language, to bear some distant, and, in many cases,
fanciful resemblance to words of the same import in the ancient Hebrew; or
when they have traced, in their religious rites and usages, some slight
analogies with the imposing ceremonials of the Mosaic ritual. In drawing
their sage conclusions from these attenuated premises, they have not
troubled themselves to consider what an overwhelming effect it would have
upon their theory, to weigh the nine hundred and ninety words in a
thousand, which have not the most distant resemblance to the Hebrew, or the
multitude of idolatrous rites, and heathenish mummeries, which were utterly
and irreconcilably at variance with the spirit and letter of the ancient
Scriptures. It is easy enough to make a theory, and to support it manfully,
as long as you can keep your eyes shut to every fact that militates against
it. But alas! the great majority of such creations vanish as soon as the
eyes are opened, even as the pageant of a dream vanishes before the morning
light.

But, not to lose sight of my own good theory, let us return to my little
images, and to the thoughts which they have suggested, in relation to the
long agitated, and still unsettled question of the origin of the first
inhabitants of this continent. In the first place,--I take it for granted,
that the new world, as it is called, was peopled from the old. For, no one
who takes the Bible as his guide, will suppose that more than one pair was
created, or doubt that the residence of that first pair, and their
immediate descendants, was in Asia. And if any one rejects the testimony of
the Bible, my argument is not intended for him.

In the second place,--it will be admitted that a close correspondence in
the forms of worship, and in the appearance and character of the objects of
worship, is one of the best grounds for supposing a similarity of origin in
any two races of people. There is scarcely any thing of which nations are
more tenacious, and by which they can be more safely recognized and
identified, than the forms and ceremonies of their religion. Strange and
inexpicable as it is, they change oftener and more easily in matters of
_Faith_, than in matters of _Form_. Nearly three thousand years ago, it was
laid down as a principle not to be questioned, that the religion of a
people, especially of idolaters, was not liable to sudden and voluntary
change. _Pass over the isles of Chittim and see, and send unto Kedar, and
consider diligently, and see if there be any such thing. Hath a nation
changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their
glory for that which doth not profit._

Now, to bring these principles to bear upon the object I have in view, let
it be observed,--First, that, in the mythology of all the pagan nations, in
Asia, many of the idols they worship, are the most monstrous and hideous
deformities imaginable. Ugliness, in every conceivable shape, is deified.
Secondly,--some of the ugliest of these deities are distinguished for their
obesity. Thirdly,--as an example of these, take _Ugnee_, the regent of
fire, among the Hindoos, who is represented as a very corpulent man, riding
on a goat, with copper colored eye brows, beard, hair and eyes. His
corpulency is held by the Brahmins, as an indication of his _benevolence_,
and his readiness to grant the desires of his worshippers. Fourthly,--among
the idols of China, some are described as monstrous figures, hideous to
behold. Among the number is _Gan_, who has a broad face, and a prodigious
great belly. Fifthly,--_Fottei_, who is sometimes called _Miroku_, one of
the best, and most prominent of the Japanese deities, is represented with
the same deformity, a huge distended belly. Another circumstance, not
inapposite to our purpose is this, that the worshippers of _Miroku_, in
Japan, expect to receive from his benevolent assistance, among other good
things, _health_, riches, and _children_.

Now, put these facts together, and associate with them the facts of the
existence of similar images of worship among the natives of America, and of
the reliance of those natives upon them for aid in times of sickness, and
will it not go far to prove a positive relationship between them and the
inhabitants of Hindostan, China, or Japan? I trust no one will presume to
dispute it, after the pains I have taken, and the learning and research I
have displayed in proving it. The problem of ages may be considered as
settled. It is no longer a vexed question.

The reader will be pleased to observe, that the Japanese god Miroku, is
expected to give to his votaries _health_ and _children_. Does not this
last circumstance bear with unanswerable weight and significancy, upon my
position; and prove, beyond the possibility of doubt or peradventure, that
the Aborigines of America, emigrated from Japan? The images which I have
discovered, and which form the subject of this erudite disquisition, are
worn, as I have before remarked, by the _women_ of America, in the time of
sickness. Now, it is an established fact, that, in all nations and in all
ages, the one great and laudable desire of woman is, that she may be
blessed with children. For this she suffers, and for this she prays. The
reliance, therefore, of the women of Japan and the women of America, upon
these ugly-looking, corpulent little demons, to assist them in attaining
this one prevalent, paramount desire, establishes the sameness of their
origin, and leaves no lingering doubt in my mind, and, of course, none in
the mind of the intelligent and candid reader, that, wherever the _men_ of
those almost exterminated races may have come from, they certainly brought
their _wives_ from Japan.

If it were desirable to go farther to prove my point, I might allude for
strong confirmation, to the fact, as laid down in an old writer, that the
Chinese claim to have discovered America, more than two hundred years
before Columbus attempted to cross the Atlantic. It was in the year 1270,
that China was overrun by the Tartars; and it is given out, that a body of
one hundred thousand inhabitants, refusing obedience to their new masters,
set sail, in one thousand ships, to find a new country, or perish in the
enterprise. The origin of Mexico is thus accounted for. And nothing is more
natural than to suppose, that, in making up so magnificent an expedition,
they would find some of their Japanese neighbors desirous to accompany
them.

In addition to this, the learned philologists, who have investigated the
languages of the Aboriginal nations, with a view to tracing their origin,
have found, in the names of places and things, many striking
correspondencies with the language of Japan. And Barton, one of our own
countrymen, has published a very elaborate treatise on the subject, in
which he undertakes, and, as he thinks, successfully, to prove, that the
language originally spoken in both the Americas, are radically one and the
same with those of the various nations, which are known by the general name
of Tartars.

Having got my hand in, and feeling somewhat encouraged by the singular
success of the above triumphant philosophical disquisition, I am strongly
tempted to trespass upon the patience of the reader, while I proceed to
inquire into the probable reasons why the worshippers of idols, who have
the choosing of their own gods, so generally delight in those of grotesque
and ugly shapes, and unseemly proportions. Since our fellow-creatures, even
our wives and our children, are loved and cherished in proportion as they
are rendered lovely to the sight by the graces of form, feature, complexion
and expression, how happens it that those objects of adoration, who are
supposed to preside over and control the interest and destinies of men, in
all their relations to each other, and the dearest objects of their
affections, should be clothed in forms of the most unnatural and disgusting
appearance? But I forbear.

I had passed several days among the ruins of Panuco. They were days of
unusual mental excitement, and bodily fatigue. There was enough around me
to occupy and interest me many days longer. But I was unprepared for the
investigation. I had gratified, but by no means satisfied, my curiosity;
and my attention was now necessarily turned from the sepulchres of the
dead, towards the dwellings of the living. I gathered up my little stock of
relics, consisting chiefly of idol images, found among the dilapidated
temples and dwellings of the departed, and, with no little difficulty,
conveyed them in safety to "the lady's room." Taking a last farewell of
this apartment, and of the friends who entertained me there, I betook
myself again to my canoe, bestowing my little demons carefully in the
bottom, and covering them, with my hammock, and other travelling apparatus.
The voyage down the river was as quiet and beautiful as can be conceived.
The greater part of it was performed at night, under favor of a full moon,
through fear of being surprised by the natives, who, in that event, either
from superstition or jealousy, would, no doubt, have deprived me of my
small collection of idols.

[Illustration: TRAVELLING BY NIGHT.]

I arrived at Tampico in the early part of April. Mine host of the French
Hotel was as ready to receive me, as on my first arrival in the city, and
his "accommodations" were equally inviting. The city was in a state of
considerable excitement, in consequence of the daily expectation of the
declaration of War by France. The Mexican Congress had, sometime before,
passed a law, forbidding any foreigner to carry on a retail business in
Mexico, after a certain specified time, on peril of confiscation. This law
deeply affected the interests of a considerable number of Frenchmen, who,
under the protection of the previous statutes, had established themselves
in the country, investing their little all in the retail business. It was,
in fact, a decree of banishment, without any alleged fault on their part,
and with the certain sacrifice of all their property.

The day arrived when the invidious law was to go into effect. The French
retailers, acting under instructions from their government, and a promise
of protection in any event, took a careful inventory of their goods, locked
up their stores, placed the keys, with the certified inventory, in the
hands of their Consuls, and waited the result. It was a quiet and dignified
movement on the part of France, a sort of silent defiance which could not
be misunderstood. But it was amusing to witness the different effects of
this state of things, upon the different classes of French residents. Some
of them, with an air of perfect nonchalance, as if fearing no power on
earth, and knowing no anxiety beyond the present moment, improved the
season as a holyday, a sort of carnival extraordinary, devoted to visiting,
dancing, and all kinds of sports. Others, of a more mercurial temperament,
blustered about the streets, flourishing their arms with the most violent
gesticulations, scowling fearfully, swearing huge oaths of vengeance, and
seemingly taking the entire affairs of the two nations into their own
hands. It was a windy war. And sure I am, if the Mexican rulers had seen
the fuming, and heard the sputtering of all these miniature volcanoes, they
would have felt the seat of power tremble beneath them.

The result of this movement proved, as thousands of similar movements have
done before, that "wisdom is better than weapons of war." The Mexicans were
completely _non-plus'd_. The offensive law was not violated in any case,
and they had no handle for a further act of oppression. The foreign
residents only stood on the defensive, and thus put the government in the
wrong. They felt their position, and made a precipitate retreat. After a
few days of awkward dalliance, they issued new instructions to the local
authorities, informing them that they had misinterpreted the law, and
misunderstood its purport. It was thus virtually abrogated, and the
business of foreigners has since been suffered to flow on in its ordinary
channels.

It is not, perhaps, quite as awkward a matter for a _nation_ to _back out_
from the position it has deliberately taken with reference to another, as
for an _individual_ to find himself compelled to do the same thing with
reference to his antagonist. The responsibility is divided among so
many--the body politic having no soul of its own--that there can be little,
if any, personal feeling in the matter. And patriotism, which is a personal
virtue wherever it exists, has generally so little to do with such
movements, that we leave it out of the question altogether. But, agreeable
or disagreeable, backing out is the only safe course, where the weak have
given offence to the strong. It is a position and a movement that poor,
divided, distracted Mexico, has become quite familiar with. And there is
good reason to apprehend that she will yet have more experience of the same
kind. Her present relations to the United States, and the ground she has
taken in reference to the independence and annexation of Texas, leave
little room for doubt, that she will, ere long, take another lesson in the
tactics of retreat. As long as private ends are to be promoted by it, or
the interests of a political clique advanced, so long she will bluster and
threaten. More than this she will never even attempt to do. For the most
selfish of her political leaders, and the most violent of her blustering
patriots, knows too much to stake his all, and the all of his country, upon
the cast of a die, which might, by possibility, turn up a war with the
United States.

The probability is, with regard to this very law, of which I have before
spoken, that it was never intended to go into full effect. It was a mere
money-getting experiment--a contrivance to levy black mail, in the name of
the state, upon the foreign residents. They took it for granted, while
passing the law, that the parties against whose interests it was aimed,
would at once propose to buy off, and that large bribes would be offered to
secure exemption from its effects. And the only chagrin they experienced,
in finding themselves out-generaled by a sagacious adversary, arose from
the necessity of relinquishing the expected booty.

But let me not longer detain the reader from his promised introduction to
the Talismanic Images, the ugly little divinities of the ancient dames of
Anahuac. _Ecce Dii Penates!_

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI

EXCURSION ON THE TAMISSEE RIVER. CHAPOTÉ, ITS APPEARANCE IN THE LAKES AND
THE GULF OF MEXICO.

     Once more in a canoe.--The Tamissee river.--Fertility of its
     banks.--Wages on the plantations.--Magnificent
     trees.--Mounds on Carmelote creek.--Entertained by a
     Yankee.--Character and condition of the people.--The
     Chapoté--Observed on the lakes in the interior of
     Mexico.--Seen also in the Gulf.--Article in Hunt's
     Merchants' Magazine.--Speculations of the writer upon the
     Gulf Stream.--Supposed connection with the Pacific
     ocean.--Objections to this theory.--Another view of the
     matter.--Insects.--Return to Tampico. The city in mourning.


It was not enough for me to know that I had _arrived_ at Tampico. I soon
became uneasy; and, being desirous to make the best use of my time, my
thoughts were immediately turned upon resuming my paddle in some other
direction. Accordingly, in the evening of an early day, I found myself once
more in a canoe, with an Indian for a companion, going up the Tamissee
River, for the purpose of visiting the creeks that empty into it at
different points, and of ascertaining what ruins might be found in their
vicinity.

This river rises at the foot of the mountains near Victoria, and falls into
the Panuco at Tampico. It is navigable about forty leagues, for any vessel
that can pass the bar, at which the depth of water is only eight or nine
feet. The average depth of the stream is eight fathoms,--and a ship of a
hundred guns, might haul up close to the side of its banks. This river
rises and falls but little, and there are no towns situated upon its
margin. Its crystal waters are well stocked with fish, of various kinds.
The scenery, on either side, is exceedingly beautiful, opening
occasionally, as you pass along, the most picturesque landscapes, and then
completely embowering you in the shade of the luxuriant trees, that
overhang the stream.

The borders of the Tamissee, with a soil of exceeding richness and
fertility, are under Indian cultivation, and supply the market of Tampico
with fruit and vegetables. The plantain is in great request there, and
plantations for cultivating it are numerous and extensive. Its growth is
luxuriant, and its flavor particularly rich and agreeable. Sugar cane grows
almost spontaneously, and in such abundance that credulity itself is
staggered at the thought. One planting, without further care or labor, is
all that it requires of human attention, for fifteen or twenty years. I
measured a cane which had been planted nine years. It was vigorous and
thrifty, as if of last year's planting, had grown to the enormous length of
twenty-one feet, and exhibited forty-five joints. The product of the juice,
though not perhaps in full proportion to the size of the plant, is much
greater than that of the ordinary cane. Thirty-two gallons of the juice
will yield no less than twelve pounds of sugar. This is considered only a
fair average. That this gigantic cane is in very tall company, will be seen
from the fact that the bamboo, which I have often measured, grows to the
height of sixty feet.

Wages, on these plantations, including the amount of one dollar allowed in
rations of corn, are seven dollars per month, which, if properly husbanded,
and prudently expended, would afford a comfortable subsistence to the
laborer. But the Indians, who perform all this kind of labor, are, as I
have before had occasion to remark, proverbially lazy and shiftless. Great
difficulty is experienced, in all this country, in keeping them steadily at
any kind of work. To find one of them so industrious and thoughtful, as to
have any thing in advance of the absolute wants of the day, would be matter
of astonishment. They work only when they are hungry, and stop as soon as
they are fed. The instincts of nature alone can rouse them to make any
exertion, unless compelled by some superior force, or a contract from which
they cannot escape.

The price of the ordinary sugar, in this vicinity, is only about two cents
per pound; but the clay-clarified is worth from twelve to fourteen cents, a
price which, it would seem, would amply remunerate the manufacturer. And
yet I do not know of an establishment of the kind in any section of this
country. If any enterprising Yankee should take the hint, and realize a
fortune in the enterprise, I trust he will bear in mind, as he retires,
that "one good turn deserves another."

In pursuing my different routes through the woods, and along the water
courses, of Mexico, I have often been struck with the immense size, and
luxuriant foliage of the trees. The Banyan, or wild fig, in particular--of
which I had occasion to take some notice before--with its numerous gigantic
trunks, propping up its great lateral branches, from which they had
originally descended in slender suckers, often covers an immense area.
Possessing within itself the material for a vast forest, it presents to the
beholder a magnificent and imposing spectacle. From some points of view,
when favorably situated, it has the aspect of a vast natural temple, with
its "long drawn aisles" and its almost endless colonnades supporting a roof
overgrown with trees, and walls hung with clustering vines. The gloomy
recesses within, would seem a fitting altar-place for the bloody rites of
that dark idolatry, which once overshadowed these beautiful regions.

The fan palm, called here _palma real_ or royal palm, rises from seventy to
eighty feet in height. It is a magnificent tree, and whether seen in
clusters, or alone, is always beautiful. With its tall straight trunk, and
its richly tufted crown of fringed leaves, waving and trembling in every
breath of air that stirs, and glistening in the sun with a beautiful
lustre, it has a glory and a grace peculiar to itself. It was so abundant
in this region, at the time of the conquest, that the Panuco was then
called the Rio des Palmas, the River of Palms. A great variety of other
trees are met with here, of magnificent size and splendid foliage, waving
their brilliant branches in the breeze, and presenting strong inducements
to the traveller continually to pause in wonder and admiration. In good
sooth, it may be said that "man is the only thing that dwindles here."

Having hauled up under a tree, made fast our canoe, and spread my blanket
over me, I passed a comfortable night, as I had often done before, in the
same primitive way. In the morning, I continued on my way two or three
leagues farther up the river, where I found ruins, similar, in their
general character, to those I have already described. They covered a
considerable space, and were buried in some places, beneath masses of
vegetable mould, and in others, overgrown with trees of immense size and
great age. I wandered up and down among them, for a considerable time,
sometimes cutting my way through the thick forest, and sometimes clambering
over piles of broken stones, and long dilapidated walls, till I was quite
weary with my labors. But I made no discoveries of sufficient interest to
require a particular description. Every thing was so utterly ruinous, that
it was impossible to trace out the lines of a single building, or determine
the boundaries of the city, in any direction.

Some distance farther up, on Carmelote Creek, there are other ruins, in the
midst of which there are seventeen large mounds, of a somewhat peculiar
construction. Though in a pretty good state of preservation, I found that
the walls were not built of stone. I penetrated one of them to some
distance, but discovered nothing but earth and mortar, and broken pieces of
pottery, with a few rude specimens of carved images, cut in concrete
sandstone. Some of the latter were as large as life. One of these I brought
away with me; also several fragments of Penates, some of which are
represented in the engraving at the close of this chapter.

The mortar in these mounds seems to have been placed in layers at the
bottom of the walls, but for what purpose I could not discover. It was not
used as a cement, for, as I have said, there were no stones to be cemented.
It was my opinion that these mounds were erected as places of burial, but
there were no bones to be found, nor other traces of human remains.

At night, I came to a house, which seemed more like home than any thing I
had seen in Mexico. The very sight of it was refreshing to the traveller.
The arrangements were all made with good taste and judgment, and a due
regard to comfort. The grounds were pleasantly laid out, and beautifully
ornamented with trees and flowers. On inquiry, I learned, as might have
been expected, that this inviting looking place was built and occupied by a
thriving Yankee, who had brought with him to Mexico his good notions of
husbandry and house-keeping. He gave me a hearty welcome to his house, and
entertained me, for the night, with the greatest kindness and hospitality.
If there were a few more such hospitable, home-like resting-places,
distributed here and there among these interesting regions, it would be
vastly more agreeable and comfortable to the jaded traveller, who attempts
to explore their time-honored ruins.

The native Mexicans, in these parts, are an indolent, haughty, overbearing
race. Still adhering to the barbarous policy of old Spain, they hold the
people of every nation except their own, however much they may be in
advance of them, in utter contempt. They are decidedly the most
disagreeable class of people in this country. There is little intelligence
or information among them. Education is at a very low ebb. There are some
bright exceptions to this general remark; but they are lamentably few and
far between. Whether a good school-master would be well sustained in this
region, is a question which I am not prepared to answer; but certain I am
he would find ample scope for the exercise of his vocation--a native soil
wholly unoccupied, except with weeds.

In pursuing my adventures, I stopped frequently at the different _milpas_
that lay in the way; but nothing like thrift or comfort was any where
visible. A rude hovel with mud walls, and a single room, is all they aspire
to, in the way of a dwelling. The land is rich and fruitful to excess, and
the lounging, listless Indian is the only insurmountable obstacle to its
profitable cultivation and improvement. In the hands of our southern
planters, or of the sturdy farmers of the northern and western states, this
whole region would become a paradise of perennial fruits and flowers, and
teem with the golden treasures of every clime under heaven.

In some of the fresh water lakes, in the interior, the "chapoté," a species
of asphaltum, is found bubbling up to the surface. When washed upon the
borders, it is gathered, and used as a varnish upon the bottoms of canoes.
It has a peculiar pungent smell, like that of liquid asphaltum, and
possesses, I think, some of its qualities. I have observed a remarkable
phenomenon, of the same kind, out of sight of land, in the Gulf of Mexico,
where the waters bubble up in the same manner, and accompanied with a
similar smell. There can be no doubt that the ebullition and effluvia
observed in the Gulf, are the effect of the same cause, which produces the
asphaltic substance on the surface of the Lakes.

This Asphaltic deposite in the Gulf, it appears, has attracted the notice
of others, and from it a theory has recently been formed, to account for
that hitherto unexplained, or not satisfactorily explained phenomenon, the
Gulf Stream. The article appears in the August number of Hunt's Merchant's
Magazine. As I had remarked upon the circumstance before that article was
published, and furnished my remarks to the writer, as a confirmation of his
statements, each of them having been made without a knowledge of the other,
I think it not amiss to present, in this place, the substance of his
theory, and the reasons upon which it is founded. I shall then have an
opinion of my own to present, which differs materially from his.

The opinion of the writer is, that the Gulf Stream is not caused by the
trade winds forcing into the Caribbean Sea, between the South Caribbee
Islands and the coast of South America, a large quantity of water which can
only find vent into the North Atlantic, by the Florida channel. In his
view, there are serious objections to this theory. First, the water in the
Gulf Stream is hotter than that of any part of the Atlantic, under the
equator, and therefore it cannot be that, which supplies this never failing
current. Secondly, the water of the Stream is hotter in deep water, where
the current begins, or rather where it has become regular and strong, than
it is in the Gulf, on soundings, where there is little or no current,
indicating that it comes not from the shores, but from the bottom in deep
water.

Thirdly, the appearance, in the Gulf, of bubbles of asphaltum constantly
rising to the surface, and spread over it for a considerable distance. It
has been collected in quantities sufficient to cover vessels chains, and
other portions of the equipments. It is of a bituminous character,
offensive to the smell, and becomes hard on exposure to the sun, forming a
durable varnish, and doing better service on iron than any paint.

Fourthly, the volume of the Gulf Stream is sometimes so great, that the
Florida channel is not sufficient to give it outlet, and the excess passes
off to the south of the Island of Cuba. This has been noticed to such an
extent, that vessels, in sailing across from Cape Catoche, the eastern
extremity of Yucatan, to Cape Corientes or Antonio, are often driven by it
very much to the eastward of their course. It is manifest that such a
current could not exist, if the Gulf Stream were supplied by waters driven
from that direction, as the two currents would counteract and destroy each
other.

From these premises, the inference of the writer is, that nothing less than
an ocean subsidiary to the Atlantic could supply the immense quantity of
water, which is continually flowing out of the Gulf, with the force of an
independent stream. And because this portion of the Atlantic is separated
from the Pacific only by a narrow Isthmus, and the water in the Pacific is
known to be constantly higher than that in the Atlantic, a passage under
the Isthmus would necessarily create a powerful current. This passage he
supposes to exist, to afford the supply necessary to keep the Gulf Stream
perpetually in action. And, as the regions through which the supposed
passage is formed, are known to be volcanic, the supposition accounts for
the high temperature of the water, as well as for the force of the current.

With regard to the temperature of the water in the stream, it is stated,
that its average, off the Capes of Florida, is 86°, and in latitude 36, it
is 81°; while the mean temperature of the atmosphere, under the equator, is
74°, and of the water of the Atlantic, in the same place, not above 60°. It
appears, then, that the water of the Stream, in passing out of the Gulf is
some 26° hotter than that of the ocean, which, under the old theory, is
supposed to supply it.

There is an error, either of the author, or of the printer, in these
figures. The temperature of the Gulf Stream is correctly given; but he has
evidently placed that of the ocean under the tropics, too low. It does not
materially affect his argument, however, since it is undoubtedly a fact,
notwithstanding the assertions of another writer, who has undertaken to
reply to the article in question, that the water of the Gulf Stream, after
it leaves the tropics, is warmer by some degrees, than the average of any
part of the ocean under the tropics. On this point, the argument in Hunt's
Magazine will not, I imagine, be controverted.

The suggestion, that the water which constitutes this stream, is derived
from the Pacific, forced by its superior elevation there, through a
subterranean passage, across or under the Isthmus, is certainly original,
and ingenious. But, to my view, it is liable to as many objections, as the
old one which it is intended to displace. It is indeed, as the writer says,
a bold conjecture, having nothing to support it, except the volume of water
required for the constant supply of the great stream, and the asphaltic
ebullition, which first suggested the theory, and gave rise to the
discussion. Both these circumstances, I imagine, can be disposed of in a
very satisfactory manner, without resorting to the supposition of this
mysterious communication between the two great oceans.

It is, in my view, a serious objection to the above-named theory, that
there is no evidence whatever, on the Pacific coast, of any such submarine
discharge of its surplus waters, as is here supposed. The natural, and
almost inevitable effect of such an offlet would be the formation, at the
place of discharge, of a mighty whirlpool, another Maelstrom, whose wide
sweeping eddies would gather into its fearful vortex, and swallow up in
inevitable destruction, whatever should venture within the reach of its
influence. Whether such a phenomenon exists on that coast, I do not know;
but it certainly is not described in any geography, nor laid down on any
atlas, which has ever fallen under my notice.

Another objection, almost, if not quite as fatal to this "bold conjecture,"
is the fact, that upon the established and well known principles of
hydrostatic pressure, a discharge, such as is here supposed, could not long
continue without reducing the two oceans to the same level. The immense
volume of the discharge which requires such a conjecture to account for it,
would surely, in the long course of ages, exhaust the surplus in the
Pacific, and then the stream would cease to flow. So that the fact of the
Pacific still maintaining its elevation, would seem to be conclusive
evidence that no such equalizing communication exists.

It may be further argued against this new theory, and it seems to me with
great plausibility, that the appearance of the "chapoté" on the surface of
the inland lakes, demonstrates the inconclusiveness of the main inference,
on which the theory is based. Wherever the supposed subterranean passage
may be, the volcanic fires, which are supposed to heat the water, and to
furnish the asphaltic element, must necessarily lie below it; while the
passage itself must, with equal certainty, lie below the bottom of the
lakes. Now, if the asphaltic ebullition finds its way up through the lakes,
would it not, certainly, and from necessity, carry the water along with it?
And should we not expect to find a jet of salt water in the midst of the
lake, or such an infusion of salt as to change the character of the lake?

If it be replied to this, that the level of the lake is higher than that of
the sea, another, and equally formidable difficulty will result. For, as
water must always find its level, through the same opening by which the
asphaltum rises, the water of the lake would inevitably leak out, and lose
itself in the mighty current.

While, therefore, I am, equally with the writer in the Merchants' Magazine,
dissatisfied with the old theory of water from the south, forced into the
Gulf by the trade winds, and compelled to find a northern outlet--which,
from the nature of the case, the formation of the land, and the ordinary
phenomena of the seas where it is held to originate, appears, at the first
blush, absurd and impossible. I am constrained to say that his "bold
conjecture" deserves no better name than he has given it. My own view of
the case is, that the true cause of this singular phenomenon must be sought
in the bottom of the Gulf itself--in a perpetual submarine volcano, which,
like a gigantic cauldron, is for ever sending up to the surface its heated
currents, mingled with bituminous ebullition from the heart of the earth. I
have taken some pains to examine the water in the immediate vicinity of
these asphaltic bubbles, and have found it always considerably warmer than
in any other part of the Gulf. It did not occur to me then, to compare it
with the known temperature of the stream, after it is formed into a
current; but I have no doubt that it will be found so to agree, as to
afford substantial confirmation to these views.

Neither the ebullition here spoken of, nor the idea of submarine volcanoes
in the Gulf, is intended to be presented as any thing new. The former was
observed, and commented upon, by several of the early voyagers, who
followed in the track of Columbus, more than three hundred years ago. It
was then attributed to the existence of volcanic fires beneath the bed of
the ocean. The latter is an opinion long since put forth, by some shrewd
observer, I know not whom, in whose mind the insuperable objections to the
old theory created a necessity for another and a better. Whether it is the
true one, it is perhaps impossible for human sagacity to say. But that it
is far more plausible, and more consistent with all the known facts in the
case, than the other, I think, cannot be denied.

The insects in this region are inconceivably numerous and annoying,--so
much so, that I was actually compelled to relinquish my researches; not
however, until I had very little reason to anticipate any thing more of
interest.

Thus defeated, I changed my course; and, turning the head of my canoe
towards home, was once again in Tampico, but apparently not in the same
city, of that name, which I had so recently left, to perform my pilgrimage
to the cities of the dead.

The place was enveloped in deep mourning. The shops were closed, colors
were hanging mournfully at half-mast, and the officers of the Mexican army
were engaged in suspending effigies in various parts of the town, on which
the zealous population might vent their pious spite. It was Good Friday;
and the effigies thus exposed to the brunt of a well meant, but harmless
popular indignation, were intended as representatives of Judas Iscariot.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XII.

GENERAL VIEW OF MEXICO, PAST AND PRESENT. SKETCH OF THE CAREER OF SANTA
ANNA.

     Ancient Mexico.--Its extent.--Its capital.--Its
     government.--Its sovereigns.--The last of a series of
     American Monarchies.--Some evidences of this.--Great
     antiquity of some of the ruins.--Population of Mexico.--Its
     government as a colony.--The Revolution.--Its
     leaders.--Iturbide.--Distracted state of the country.--Santa
     Anna.--His public career.--Pedraza.--Guerrero.--Barradas at
     Tampico.--Defeated by Santa Anna.--Bustamente.--Pedraza
     again.--Santa Anna made President.--Revolt of Texas and
     Yucatan.--Battle of San Jacinto.--Santa Anna a
     prisoner.--Released, returns in disgrace.--Out again.--Loses
     a leg.--Dictator.--President.--Put down by
     Paredes.--Banished.--Probable result.--The Press.--Departure
     for home.


Hanging Judas Iscariot in effigy, eighteen centuries after he had hung
himself in despair for his treachery, and raising a monumental tablet to
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, seemed to me to be somewhat incongruous
amusements. But these Mexicans will have their way, however strange it may
be. Leaving them to choose for themselves, in these matters, I propose,
before taking leave of Tampico, to give a brief sketch of the history and
present condition of Mexico, and of the career of the singular man, who has
acted so prominent a part in the revolutions which have recently convulsed
that unhappy country.

The ancient Mexico was comprised within much narrower limits, than those
which now bound the Republic. Yet, owing to the remarkable formation of the
country, beginning with its low plains, and tropical valleys along the sea
board, and gradually ascending, plateau above plateau, into the region of
perpetual winter, it embraced every variety of climate, and yielded almost
every production, that was known on the face of the earth.

In the midst of one of the most beautiful and luxuriant plateaus, situated
midway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, and measuring a little more
than two hundred miles in circumference, with lofty, snow-crowned walls on
every side, stood the Queen City, Tenochtitlan, now called Mexico, the
metropolis of the Aztec empire, the seat of civilization, of art, of
luxury, of refinement--"the Venice of the Western world." It was founded in
the early part of the fourteenth century, and soon became the seat of a
flourishing empire, and the central point of power to a triad of nations.
Mexico, Tezcuco, and Tlacopan, bound together by a league of perpetual
amity, which was faithfully maintained and preserved through a long period
of unexampled warfare, subdued to their united sway, all the neighboring
tribes and nations of Anahuac. In process of time, the power and influence
of Mexico overtopped that of its confederates, and Tezcuco and Tlacopan
became little better than tributaries to the central empire of the
Montezumas.

The government of this ancient empire was an absolute monarchy, and was
maintained in a style of truly Oriental pomp and magnificence. Their
monarch supported his state with all the proud dignity, and stately
ceremonial of the most refined courts of the old world. His attendants were
princes, who waited on him with the most obsequious deference. The form of
presentation was much the same as now prevails in the royal saloons of
Europe, the subject never presuming to turn his back upon the throne, but
carefully stepping backward to the door, in retiring from the royal
presence. Whether this circumstance is sufficient to prove that Europe was
peopled from Mexico--an opinion gravely put forth, and sturdily maintained,
by at least one old writer--I shall not now stop to inquire.

The body-guard of the sovereign was composed of the chief nobles of the
realm, who, like the great feudal lords of Europe, held sway over extensive
estates of their own, and could call into the field, at any moment, an
immense army of subject retainers. The royal palaces were extensive and
magnificent, and comprised apartments, not only for the private
accommodation of the royal household, but for all the great purposes of the
state--halls of council, treasuries for the public revenue, etc. etc.
Mexico was indeed a city of palaces, interspersed with temples and
pyramids, rivalling in splendor and luxury, as well as in extent, many of
the proudest capitals of the Old World.

This splendid monarchy, which was probably at the very acme of its glory,
when discovered and overturned by the remorseless invaders from Spain, was
the last of a series of powerful and highly refined dynasties, that had
successively flourished and passed away, in the beautiful regions of
Central America. Two mighty oceans on the east and west, two mighty
continents on the north and south, and embracing, in the singular
arrangement of its slopes and levels, all the climates and productions of
both and of all, it seems to have been, for ages, we know not how far back,
the theatre of all the art, the seat of all the power, the centre of all
the refinement and luxury, of the western hemisphere. There are some
remarkable works of art, and wonderful traces of ancient civilization in
South America, as well as some singular remains of a once numerous and
powerful people in the north. But the Isthmus was the Decapolis of Ancient
America. "The tabernacles of its palaces were planted _between the seas_,
in the glorious mountain." Here was its Babylon, its Nineveh, its Thebes,
its Palmyra. And here, splendid in ruins, with no voice to tell of their
ancient founders, or of the millions who once thronged their busy streets,
they still remain, an instructive but painful lesson on the instability of
human affairs, the brevity of a terrestrial immortality.

I have said that Mexico was the last of a series of splendid monarchies
that had flourished, and passed away, in Central America. The evidences of
the truth of this statement are too numerous, and too clear, to admit of a
doubt. The ruins of extensive and magnificent cities, which abound on every
side, like the sepulchres and monuments of the departed, are the melancholy
memorials, which cannot be gainsayed, of the gigantic power and fruitful
resources of the Past. Palenque, Copan, and many more in the south--Uxmal,
Chi-chen, Ticul, Kabah, Mayapan, etc., in the central regions of
Yucatan--Panuco, Cerro Chacuaco, and others without a name, in the
north--these are but a part of the remains of ancient grandeur that lie
buried under the soil, and hidden in the almost impervious forests of this
luxuriant clime. Their name is legion. Some of them were deserted and in
ruins at the period of the Spanish Conquest, and are occasionally spoken of
by the historians of that day with wonder and amazement. Some were
evidently occupied by other races than the builders, inferior in taste and
refinement, if not in physical power; and some, though not then in utter
ruins, were, as at the present day, waste and without inhabitant,--

    Desolate, like the dwellings of Moina,--
    The fox looked out of the window,
    The rank grass waved round its head.

In the remains of these ruined cities, there are not only the evidences
derived from their different degrees of dilapidation and decay, to prove
that they originated in different and far distant ages, but others which
show them to be the works of distinct races of people. The plan and
architecture of the buildings, the style and finish of the ornamental
parts, the forms and features of the sculptured heads, differ as widely as
those of Egypt and Greece, and as clearly prove the workmanship of
different periods, and different artists. Some writers have undertaken to
trace in these ruins, evidences of three distinct ages of American
civilization. Without entering into an argument on the subject, I would
simply remark, that, whether three, or five, or more, no conclusion seems
to my mind capable of a more perfect substantiation, than this, that these
ruins extend far back into the remotest ages of antiquity, and form a
continuous chain of connection between the earliest settlers in America,
and the Toltecs and Aztecs, of whom we have something like authentic
history. I go farther, and say that this chain is probably complete in its
parts, though the links are separated, and cannot now be brought together
again. They are all there, but so scattered and confounded together, that
he who attempts to assign them a place and a date, or to build a theory
upon their apparent relations to each other, will probably soon find
himself "in wandering mazes lost," and rather amuse, than convince or
instruct his readers.

These statements are, for the most part, drawn from the most reliable
sources, and confirmed, as far as I have had opportunity, by my own
observation. I shall take the liberty to regard them as facts. Intending to
refer to them in the concluding chapter, and to draw from them some
inferences in support of the opinions I have formed respecting the origin
of the ancient American races, and the probable epoch of the ruins I have
had the pleasure to explore, I shall make no further comment upon them
here; but proceed to a brief epitome of the present condition of the empire
of the Montezumas.

The population of Mexico is as mixed and various as that of any other
portion of the globe. It includes, at least, seven distinct races. First,
the Europeans, or foreign residents, called Chapetones, or Gapuchins.
Secondly, Creoles, or native whites of European extraction. Thirdly, the
Mestizoes, the offspring of whites and Indians. Fourthly, Mulattoes, the
offspring of whites and blacks. Fifthly, the Aboriginal Indians. Sixthly,
Negroes. Seventhly, Zamboes, or Chinoes, the offspring of negroes and
Indians. There is also a sprinkling of Chinese and Malays, and natives of
the Canaries, who rank as whites, and are known by the general name of
Islenos, or Islanders.

While Mexico remained a colony of Spain, from the conquest in 1519, till
the Revolution in 1810, all the power and influence, and nearly all the
wealth, was confined to the first class. The revolution transferred it to
the second, and expatriated the first. And this was almost its only result;
for it does not seem to have been attended with any of the ordinary
blessings of freedom to the common people, either in lightening their
burdens, or elevating their moral condition.

The government of the colony was that of a Viceroy, the proud servant of a
proud master in Spain, and amenable only to him for his acts. The people
had no voice either of council or remonstrance. It was passive submission
to absolute power. Whether that power became more severe and oppressive, in
the early part of the present century, than it had been, or whether the
increased numbers, wealth and ambition of the Creoles induced a desire to
take the power into their own hands, or whether it was the mere contagion
of rebellion and independence, diffusing itself over a continent reserved
as "the area of Freedom," and separated by wide oceans from the despotisms
of the Old World, it is not easy now to decide. The struggle was long and
severe. Monarchy held on to the golden mountains of Mexico with a desperate
though feeble grasp. Independence was declared, by the congress of Mexico,
in 1813, but it was not finally and fully achieved until 1829, when the
Spanish residents were expelled from the country.

The contest for independence, as is usually the case, brought out the
patriotism, talent and genius of the native population. Several of the
leaders distinguished themselves in the eyes of the world. Among the most
prominent were Guerrero, Hidalgo, Moreles and Victoria.

In 1820, the Viceroy, who was still struggling to support the tottering
throne, commissioned General Iturbide, who had been successful in several
engagements with the Creoles, to reduce them to submission. Iturbide was
born to be a traitor. No sooner was the army placed at his control, than he
betrayed his trust, joined the cause of the revolutionists, and proclaimed
Mexico independent. This was in 1821. A congress assembled in 1822, to form
a constitution. But Iturbide, traitor to the cause he had just adopted,
caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor, under the title of Augustin the
First. Opposed by a powerful and resolute party, rendered desperate by
their success hitherto, this self-constituted Emperor was compelled to
abdicate in the course of a year, and retire to Europe, the proper theatre
for legitimate tyrants. Returning to Mexico in 1824, with a view, as was
supposed, to avail himself of the distractions of the country, to assert
anew his claims to the imperial dignity, he was seized and shot, as soon
as he had landed.

From the first outbreak of the Revolution to the present time, Mexico has
been torn and distracted with internal wars. The long struggle for
Independence, was succeeded, as soon as that end was achieved, by other and
more bitter struggles for personal or party ascendency. A constitution was
adopted in 1823. The government established by it, is a confederated
Republic, modelled in most respects, after that of the United States--a
government exactly suited to make an intelligent and virtuous people happy,
but not adapted to a community composed of restless, unprincipled,
ambitious factionists, on the one hand, and an ignorant, bigoted rabble, on
the other. Faction after faction has arisen, plan after plan has been
proposed, adopted, and instantly discarded for another, till it has become
as difficult to say what is, or has been at any particular period, the
actual government of Mexico, as to predict what it will be to-morrow. If
the intelligence of the people had been such as to justify the
comparison,--if there had been more real patriotism, more sincere love of
liberty among the principal actors in these bloody dramas, one might say,
that the Florentine Histories of the middle ages had been re-enacted in
Mexico. How different the struggle, both in its manner and in its results,
in our own blessed land. But let us not triumph over our less favored and
weaker neighbors. Let us rather devoutly thank heaven that our fathers
loved liberty more than power, and laid broad and deep the foundations of
intelligence, virtue and religion,--not superstition, and a bigoted
devotion to forms, or a blind submission to ecclesiastical authority, but
the religion which recognizes God as supreme, and all men as equal,--on
which to raise the glorious superstructure of rational freedom. Let us see
to it, that, while we enlarge the superstructure, we do not neglect the
foundations.

It was during the temporary ascendency of Iturbide, that Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna, now more notorious than illustrious, became a conspicuous actor
on this turbulent stage. He was a native of the department of Vera Cruz.
Here, without enjoying any adventitious advantages of birth or family, he
succeeded, by his talents and industry, in securing great local influence,
and gradually rose to wealth and power. Except Bolivar, there is, perhaps,
no one among the many distinguished agitators of Spanish America, whose
career has been signalized by so many extraordinary vicissitudes of good
and evil fortune, or who has rilled so large a space in the eye of the
world, as Santa Anna.

On the promulgation by Iturbide of the plan of Iguala, (February 24, 1821,)
Santa Anna, at the head of the irregular forces of the neighborhood,
succeeded by a _coup de main_, in driving the Spaniards out of Vera Cruz,
of which he was immediately appointed governor. The Spaniards, however,
still held the castle of San Juan de Ulloa, from which they were not for a
long time dislodged; and, of course, Santa Anna's position was one of great
importance.

Meanwhile, differences arose between Santa Anna and the Emperor Augustin,
who had come down to Jalapa to direct the operations against the Spaniards.
Santa Anna repaired to Jalapa to confer with Iturbide; and, being treated
harshly, and deprived of his command, immediately left Jalapa, hurried back
to Vera Cruz, in anticipation of the intelligence of his disgrace, raised
the standard of revolt, and, by means of his personal authority with the
troops of the garrison, commenced hostilities with the Emperor. Thereupon
Guadalupe Victoria, whose name was endeared to the Mexicans by his previous
unsuccessful efforts in the revolution, and who was living concealed in the
mountains, emerged from his hiding place, called around him his old
republican companions in arms, expelled Iturbide, and established the
Mexican republic with a federal constitution, in imitation of that of the
United States.

Santa Anna, who, by first taking up arms, had contributed so largely to
this result, thinking himself not duly considered in the new arrangements,
sailed from Vera Cruz with a small force March 1823, and landing at
Tampico, advanced through the country to San Luis Potosi, assuming to be
protector of the new republic. But not possessing influence enough to
maintain himself in this attitude, he was compelled to submit to the
government, and to remain for several years in retirement at Manga de
Clavo.

The termination of Victoria's presidency, however, in 1828, enabled Santa
Anna to re-appear on the stage. Pedraza had been regularly elected
President; on hearing of which, Santa Anna rose in arms, and by a rapid
march, seized upon and intrenched himself in the castle of Perote. Here he
published a plan, the basis of which was to annul the election of Pedraza,
and confer the presidency on Guerrero. But, being successfully attacked
here by the government forces, he was compelled to flee, and took refuge in
the mountains of Oajaca, to all appearance an outlaw and a ruined man. The
signal of revolution, however, which he had given at Perote, was followed
up with more success in other parts of the country.

Pedraza was at length driven into exile, Guerrero was declared President in
his place, and Santa Anna was appointed to the command of the very army
sent against him, and to the government of Vera Cruz, and after the
inauguration of Guerrero, April 1829, he became Secretary of War.

While these events were in progress, the Spanish government was organizing
its last invasion of Mexico. Barradas, the commander of the Spanish forces,
landing at Tampico, July 27, 1829. Santa Anna was entrusted with the
command of the Mexican troops, and at length compelled the Spaniards to
capitulate, September 11, 1829, which put an end to the war of
independence.

Guerrero had been in office but a few months, when another revolution broke
out. The Vice-President, Bustamente, gathered a force at Jalapa, and
pronounced against Guerrero, December 1829, who was at length taken
prisoner, and executed for treason; Bustamente assuming the presidency.

Santa Anna, after feebly resisting, had at length joined, or at least
acquiesced in, the movement of Bustamente; and remained in retirement for
two or three years, until, in 1832, he on a sudden pronounced against the
government, compelled Bustamente to flee, and brought back Pedraza from
exile, to serve out the remaining three months of the term for which he
had been elected to the presidency.

In the progress of events, Santa Anna had now acquired sufficient
importance to desist from the function of President maker, and to become
himself President. This took place in May, 1833. His presidency was filled
with pronunciamentos and civil wars, which produced the consummation of the
overthrow of the federal constitution of 1824, and the adoption, in 1836,
of a central constitution.

Though most of the Mexican States acquiesced in the violent changes, by
which they were reduced to mere departments, under the control of military
commandants, Texas on the northeast, and Yucatan on the south-east, refused
to submit to the military dominion of whatever faction of the army might
happen to hold power in the city of Mexico: and Santa Anna at length took
command in person of the army organized for the reduction of Texas. The
battle of San Jacinto, the capture of Santa Anna, his release by Houston on
conditions, which he afterwards refused to fulfil, his visit to this
country, and his subsequent return to Mexico, are events familiarly known
in the United States.

When Santa Anna marched on Texas, first Barragan, and then Coro, exercised
the functions of the presidency for a while, until, under the new
constitution, Bustamente, having returned from exile, was elected
President; the temporary unpopularity of Santa Anna, and his retirement in
disgrace to Manga de Clavo, having left the field open to the friends of
Bustamente.

Sundry _pronunciamentos_ followed; of which, one of the most dangerous,
headed by Mejia, gave to Santa Anna the opportunity of emerging from his
retirement. He vanquished Mejia, and caused him to be shot on the field of
battle. This exploit gave to Santa Anna a new start in public affairs; so
that when the French Government, in 1838, resolved to punish Mexico for its
multiplied aggressions on the subjects of France in Mexico, and proceeded
to attack Vera Cruz, the command of the Mexican troops were committed to
Santa Anna. On this occasion he received a wound, which rendered the
amputation of one of his legs necessary; and his services, at this time,
seemed to have effaced, in the eyes of the Mexicans, the disgrace of his
defeat at San Jacinto.

Santa Anna took no part in the unsuccessful movement of Urrea against
Bustamente, in 1840; but in 1841, there broke out a revolution, commenced
by Paredes, at Guadalajara, into which Santa Anna threw himself with so
much vigor and zeal, that Bustamente was again compelled to flee, and the
plan of Tacubaya, with the agreement of La Estanzuela, was adopted; in
virtue of which, the constitution of 1836 was abolished, and Santa Anna
himself was invested with the powers of dictator, for the purpose of
re-constituting the republic.

Under these auspices, and amid all the calamities of a protracted but
unsuccessful attempt to reduce Yucatan to submission, (for Yucatan at
length made its own terms,) a new constitution was adopted, June 13, 1843,
entitled, "Basis of Political organization of the Mexican Republic," and
Santa Anna was elected President.

Santa Anna resigned his dictatorship, and entered upon office as the new
President, in January, 1844; but before the expiration of the year, Paredes
again pronounced at Guadalajara, and this time against Santa Anna. The
chief ostensible causes of this movement, were various administrative
abuses committed by Santa Anna and his ministers, and especially an
abortive attempt of his administration to raise money for an expedition
against Texas. When the revolution broke out, Santa Anna was at Magna de
Clavo, the presidency being provisionally held, during his absence from the
capital, by Canalizo. Instantly, on hearing the tidings of the movement at
Guadalajara, Santa Anna, in open violation of one of the articles of the
new organic basis, was placed in command of the army, and rapidly traversed
the republic, from Jalapa to Queretara, with all the forces he could raise,
to encounter Paredes. But the departments which he had left behind him
speedily revolted, not excepting even Vera Cruz; and though his faction in
the capital, including Canalizo and the ministers, endeavored to sustain
him by proclaiming him dictator, their efforts were vain. He was compelled
to retrograde, and at length was routed, and obliged to surrender himself a
captive to the new administration, headed by Herrera, which has released
him with the penalty of ten years' exile.

Defeated, banished, and in disgrace with the world, it is still difficult
to determine what will be the ultimate fate of this hero of half a score of
revolutions. He is now, or, more properly speaking, he was when last heard
from, living in luxurious retirement, on one of the most splendid estates
in Cuba, a few miles from Havana. With immense wealth at his command,
ambitious as ever of power, he is but waiting a favorable opportunity to
thrust himself again into the quarrels of his ill-fated country. Money will
accomplish any thing there, good or evil. And if, through any of his
emissaries, he can once more gain access to the army, one year's income
from his rich estates will buy them over to a new revolution, and the
exiled dictator will once more place his wooden foot upon the necks of his
conquerors, and of the people. This may be his position before the
expiration of the present year. It may be, before the ink is dry which
records the peradventure. It may be, at this very moment. "_Nous verrons ce
que nous verrons._"

Of literature, properly speaking, there is none in Mexico. There are a few
scholars and learned men, in the church and at the bar. But their presence
is not felt, their weight is not realized, in any estimate we attempt to
make of the national character.

Veytia, a native of Puebla, who flourished about the middle of the last
century, has done much to illustrate the early history of the nations of
Anahuac; tracing out, with great patience and fidelity, the various
migrations of its principal races, and throwing much light on their history
and works. He was an industrious able critic, and though but little known,
deserves the highest credit for his valuable contributions to ancient
American literature.

Clavigero, a native of Vera Cruz, a voluminous and elaborate writer on the
same subject, whose works are well known and highly approved, has rectified
many of the inaccuracies of foreign writers, and done much to concentrate
the scattered rays of native tradition, and give form and substance to
previous antiquarian researches.

Antonio Gama, a native of Mexico, and a lawyer, was a ripe scholar,
distinguished for patient investigation, severe accuracy, and an impartial
desire to arrive at the truth, without reference to a preconceived opinion
or theory. He was a thorough master of some of the native languages, and,
to an extent as great as the nature of the case admitted, of the native
traditions and hieroglyphics. These, together with their systems of
arithmetic, astronomy and chronology, he has illustrated with uncommon
acuteness and ability. His works are but little known, but of great value
to those who would follow a safe guide amid the labyrinths of antiquarian
lore.

Other worthy names might be added to these. But let these suffice to show
that there is nothing in the climate unfavorable to letters. It is a rich,
a glorious field; but, trampled by tyranny, or convulsed with revolutions
and civil wars, there has scarcely been a moment, during the present
century, when the scholar, however much disposed to retirement, could close
the door of his study, and feel himself secure from interruption. It is
hardly fair, therefore, to measure the literary capacity of Mexico, by its
present fruits, or to judge of her scholars by the issues of the Press in
such turbulent times.

There are but few newspapers in the country, and these are not conducted
with the most consummate ability. The bombastic, bragadocio style, with
which they are often inflated, if it be not intended for carricature,
might almost vie with Baron Munchausen's happiest specimens of that kind of
composition. The comments of the government organ, published at the
capital, are often extremely bitter upon every thing which relates to the
United States. In some remarks respecting the monument commemorating the
battle of Bunker Hill, the editor observes,--"The people of Boston make
much ado about its completion"--and then adds,--"if Mexico should raise
monuments for all such _trivial_ occurrences in her history, the whole
country would be filled with them." A little farther on, speaking of the
Peninsular War, he says,--"they may do--but Wellington never yet knew what
it was to face a breast-work of Mexican bayonets."!!! Alas! for Wellington,
and the glory of British arms! What was Waterloo to San Jacinto!

On preparing to leave Tampico, I experienced considerable difficulty, and
no small expense in procuring the necessary passports. Stamps, for permits
of baggage, were required. My baggage had to undergo a very annoying
examination, with a view to the discovery of specie that might be concealed
therewith, which pays an export duty of six per cent. To such a provoking
extent is this examination carried, that the insolent officers thrust their
hands, like Arabs, into the bottoms of your pockets, in pursuit of your
small loose change.

I took passage in the Mexican schooner Belle Isabel, for New Orleans, in
company with twenty other passengers. We embarked in the river, and, though
hoping for a short passage, it was with sensations of discomfort,
amounting almost to consternation, that I ascertained, after every thing
was on board, that water and provisions had been laid in, sufficient only
for a passage of forty-eight hours. After protesting to the American
Consul, and lodging my complaint with the Captain of the port, against the
villainous purpose of the master and consignee of the vessel, to put us
upon allowance, and experiencing much delay, some further supplies were
sent on board. We remained in the river some time, being unable to pass the
bar, in consequence of the shallowness of the water in the channel. The
annoyances experienced from the vermin, with which the vessel abounded, and
the motley character of the passengers, made up of negroes, mulattoes, and
Mexicans, rendered my position quite intolerable; and even sickness, which
filled up the measure of my troubles, was a not unwelcome excuse for
parting with such disagreeable associates.

This affords me a favorable opportunity, and I embrace it with heartfelt
pleasure, of paying, in part, a debt of gratitude to Captain Chase, the
American Consul at Tampico, and his accomplished and kind-hearted lady,
who, during a severe and protracted illness, attended me with a kindness
that will not soon be forgotten. The tender and patient attentions, which
they bestowed upon a sick countryman, in a strange land, were such as might
have been expected from a brother and sister, and were rendered doubly
valuable to the recipient, by the full hearted cheerfulness and benevolence
which characterized them. God bless them both! May they never want a friend
and comforter in any of the trials that may fall to their lot.

More fortunate in my next attempt to leave Tampico, I secured a passage in
the Pilot Boat Virginia, and, after a short and agreeable voyage, arrived
at the Crescent City on the 8th of June, satisfied, for the present, with
my adventures, and glad to greet the kind faces of familiar friends, and
share the comforts which can only be found at home.

_At home!_ yes, here I am once more, in my own quiet home, having performed
three voyages by sea, embracing a distance of some two thousand miles,
besides sundry rambles and pilgrimages in the interior, and all this, with
only two "hair-breadth 'scapes by field or flood"--scarcely enough, I fear,
to spice my narrative to the taste of the age.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE TWO AMERICAN RIDDLES.

     Humboldt's caution.--Antiquities of the Old World long
     involved in mystery, now explained. Ancient ruins never
     fully realized by description.--The two extremes of
     theorists.--A medium.--My own conclusion.--Reasons for
     it.--1. Absence of Tradition.--Necessity and importance of
     tradition.--Most likely to be found among the Aztecs.--An
     attempt to account for its absence.--Answered.--The Toltecs
     and their works.--A choice of conclusions.--2. Character and
     condition of ruins.--Widely different from each other.--The
     works of different and distant ages.--Probable origin of the
     people.--One universal tradition, its relevancy to the
     question.--Variety of opinions.--Variety of ancient
     works.--Conclusion.


The great problems of the origin of the American races, and of American
civilization, though volumes have been written upon them, are yet unsolved.
Whether, according to the inquisitive and sagacious Humboldt, we ought to
regard it as lying "without the limits prescribed to history, and even
beyond the range of philosophical investigation," or whether we may look
upon it as still open to the examination of those who are curious in
ancient lore, must be determined rather by the ultimate result of our
discoveries, and of the speculations based upon them, than upon the
exaggerated notions of the difficulty of the question, which the first
confused revelations of the travelled enquirer may seem to suggest.

I am by no means convinced in my own mind, that this question is one which
cannot now be reached, or which must be looked upon as every year receding
farther and farther from our grasp. The antiquities of the old world,
buried for so many ages in midnight oblivion, had remained through a long
course of centuries, the standing enigma of Time. With the help even of
some imperfect records from the archives of ancient history, and the aid of
what seemed to be a fair line of tradition, the origin and purpose of many
of them, and the hidden meaning of their hieroglyphical embellishments, had
continued to be an inexplicable mystery quite down to our own times. Much
learned investigation, from acute observers, and profound reasoners, had
been expended upon them, without arriving at any satisfactory result. And
yet, after all, the nineteenth century has expounded the riddle. The lapse
of ages, instead of scattering beyond recovery the dim, uncertain twilight
that hung about these august monuments of the solemn Past, has miraculously
preserved it, as it were embalmed by a magic spiritual photography, to be
concentrated into a halo of glory around the brow of Champollion. May it
not be so with the now mysterious relics of the ancient races of America?

It may be remarked, and I think the remark cannot fail to commend itself to
the good sense of every reflecting mind, that no description, however
perfect, or however faithfully and ably illustrated by the art of the
engraver, can convey any adequate idea of the character of these ruins, or
furnish, to one who has not seen them with his own eyes, the basis of a
rational argument upon their origin. Were it possible to transport them
entire to our own fields, and reconstruct them there, in all their
primitive grandeur and beauty, it would not help us to solve the
mystery--it would not convey to us any just notion of what they have been,
or what they are. To be realized and understood, they must be studied where
they are, amid the oppressive solitude of their ancient sites, surrounded
with the luxuriant vegetation and picturesque scenery of their native
clime, the clear transparent heaven of the tropics above them, and their
own unwritten, unborrowed associations lingering dimly about them.

There are two errors, lying at the two extremes of the broad area of
philosophical inquiry, into which men are liable to fall, in undertaking
the discussion of questions of this nature. The one leads to hasty
conclusions upon imperfect, ill-digested premises; the other shrinks from
all conclusions, however well supported, and labors only to deepen the
shadows of mystery, which hang about its subject. One forms a shallow
theory of his own, suggested by the first object he meets with on entering
the field--or, perhaps borrows that of some equally superficial observer
who had gone before him, or even of some cloistered speculator, who has
never ventured beyond the four walls of his own narrow study--and, clinging
to it with the tenacity of a parental instinct to its first born
impression, sees nothing, hears nothing, conceives nothing, however
palpable and necessary, that will not illustrate and aggrandize his one
idea. The most convincing proofs are lost upon him. Demonstration assails
him in vain. He started with his conclusion in his hand, and it is no
marvel if he comes back as ignorant as he went, having added nothing to his
argument, but the courage to push it somewhat more boldly than before.

Another enters the field, thoroughly convinced that it is impossible to
come to any conclusion at all. He fears to see any thing decisive, lest it
should compel him to favor an opinion. He dreads an object that suggests a
definite idea, lest it should draw him perforce to support some tangible
theory. He stumbles blindfold over palpable facts, and clearly defined
analogies, and converses only with shadows. His philosophy consists in
leaning to whatever embarrasses a conclusion, and following only those
contradictory lights, which perplex the judgment, and prevent it from
arriving at a precise and positive inference.

Unsafe as it is to trust to the guidance of a mere theorist, there is
little satisfaction in attempting to follow the timid lead of the universal
doubter. Is it not possible to find a medium course?--to proceed with
philosophic prudence and caution, taking due heed to all our steps, and yet
to look facts and analogies boldly in the face, listen fearlessly to all
their suggestions, collate, compare, and digest every hint and intimation
they put forth, and venture, without exposing ourselves to the uncharitable
imputation of dogmatism, to form and express a definite opinion? If any
thing would deter _me_ from so bold a step, it would be the formidable
array of eminent names in the list of the doubters. When so many of the
wisest have given it up as hopeless, it requires no less courage than skill
to assume to be an Oedipus. But, having already, on a former occasion,
been driven to a positive inference from the narrow premises afforded by
the question, and being answerable therefor at the bar of public criticism,
I have less at stake than I should otherwise have, upon the opinion which I
have now to offer.

I am free to acknowledge then, that the impressions formed by my first
"rambles" among the ruined cities of Yucatan, have been fully confirmed by
what I have now been permitted to see in Mexico. I am compelled, in view of
all the facts and analogies which they present, to assign those ruins, and
the people who constructed them, to a very remote antiquity. They are the
works of a people who have long since passed away, and not of the races, or
the progenitors of the races, who inhabited the country, at the epoch of
the discovery.

To this conclusion I am led, or rather driven, by a variety of
considerations, which I will endeavor to state, with as much brevity and
conciseness as the nature of the case will admit.

The first consideration to which I shall allude, in support of the opinion
above expressed, is the absence of all tradition respecting the origin of
these buildings, and the people by whom they were erected. Among all the
Indian tribes in all Central America, it is not known that there is a
solitary tradition, that can throw a gleam of light over the obscurity that
hangs about this question. The inference would seem to be natural and
irresistible, that the listless, unintellectual, unambitious race of men,
who for centuries have lingered about these ruins, not only without
knowing, but without caring to know, who built them, cannot be the
descendants, nor in any way related to the descendants, of the builders.
Tradition is one of the natural and necessary elements of the primitive
stages of society. Its foundations are laid deep in the social nature of
man. And it is only because it is supplanted by other and more perfect
means of transmission, as civilization advances, that it is not, always and
every where, the only channel of communication with the past, the only link
between the living and the dead. In all ages, among all nations, where
written records have been wanting, tradition has supplied the blank, and,
generation after generation, the story of the past has been transmitted
from father to son, and celebrated in the song of the wandering bard, till,
at length, history has seized the shadowy phantom, and given it a place and
a name on her enduring scroll. This is the fountain head of all ancient
history. True, it is often so blended with the fabulous inventions of
poetry, that it is not always easy to sift out the truth from the fiction.
Still, it is relied upon in the absence of records: while the very fable
itself is made subservient to truth, by shadowing forth, in impressive
imagery and graceful drapery, her real form and lineaments. What else than
fable is the early history of Rome?

Now, if these ruins of America are of comparatively modern date, if, as
some have undertaken to show, they were constructed and occupied by the not
very remote ancestors of the Indian races who now dwell among them, in a
state of abject poverty and servitude, is it reasonable, is it conceivable,
that there should not be found a man among them acquainted with their
ancient story, claiming affinity with their builders, and rehearsing in
song, or fable,

    The marvels of the olden time?

With these splendid and solemn reminiscences always before their eyes, with
all the hallowed and affecting associations that ever linger about the
ancient homes of a cultivated people,--the temples of its worship, the
palaces of its kings and nobles, the sepulchres of its founders and
fathers, always present and constantly renewed to their minds, is it
possible they could, in three brief centuries, forget the tale, and lose
every clue to their own so gloriously illustrated history. I cannot admit
it. I cannot conceive of it.

The attempt to lay aside, or narrow down, this argument from tradition, or
the absence of it, in order to arrive at an easy explanation of the mystery
of these ruined cities, appears to me to be unphilosophical in another
point of view. If I understand aright the character and history of the
people who once flourished here, this is just the region, and they are just
the people, where this kind of evidence would exist and abound. The Aztecs
were a highly imaginative and poetical people. The picture writing, which
prevailed among them, and in which they had attained so high a degree of
perfection, was precisely the material on which to build traditionary lore,
and cultivate a taste for it among the common people. It was the poetry of
hieroglyphics--a national literature of tropes and figures. It selected a
few prominent comprehensive images, as the representatives of great events.
Strongly drawn and highly colored, these would impress themselves
powerfully on the minds and memories of the people, and be associated with
all that was dear to their hearts. Their personal histories, their family
distinctions, their national pride, would all be involved in them, and all
have a part in securing their faithful preservation and transmission.
Inexhaustible fountains of national song and poetical fable, they would be
recited in their public assemblies, and handed down from generation to
generation. They would be to America what the Homeric poems were to Greece,
and many long ages would not obliterate or destroy them.

It has been argued, by way of anticipating such views as these, that the
unexampled severities and oppressions of the Spanish conquerors, broke the
spirit of these once proud nations, and so trampled them in the dust, as to
annihilate those sentiments and affections, which form the basis of
national pride and traditionary lore. It is a violent assumption,
unsupported by any parallel in history, ancient or modern. Remove them from
their ancient inheritance, transplant them to other climes, surround them
with other scenes, amalgamate them with other people, and they may, in
process of time, forget their origin and their name. But, in the midst of
their father's sepulchres, with their temples, their pyramids, their
palaces, all around them,

    Their native soil beneath their feet,
    Their native skies above them,--

it is inconceivable, impossible.

At this point I shall probably be interrupted, by the inquisitive reader,
with the question, whether I am not overturning my own position, by
insisting that the ancient Aztecs, and their works, must necessarily live
in tradition, while I allow that the Mexican Indians retain no memory of
their ancestors. I conceive not. The ruins to which I refer, are not those
of the Mexican and Tezcucan cities, which were sacked by the Spaniards,
almost demolished, and then rebuilt in a comparatively modern style of
architecture. Of those we need no native tradition. The Spanish histories
have told us all that we can know of them.

But even of these, as the Spaniards found them, we have no certain evidence
that the people who then occupied them, were the _sole_ builders. We have
both tradition and history to justify us in asserting that they were not.
Another race had preceded them, and filled the country with their works of
genius and art. The Toltecs, whose advent into the territory of Anahuac, is
placed as far back as the seventh century of the Christian era, were not
inferior to the Aztecs in refinement, and the knowledge of the mechanic
arts. To them the Aztec paintings accord the credit of most of the science
which prevailed among themselves, and acknowledged them as the fountain
head of their civilization. The capital of their empire was at Tula, north
of the Mexican valley, and the remains of extensive buildings were to be
seen there at the time of the conquest. To the same people were ascribed
the ruins of other noble edifices, found in various places throughout the
country, so vast and magnificent, that, with some writers, "the name,
_Toltec_, has passed into a synonyme for _architect_." Following in their
footsteps, and acknowledging them as their teachers, it would not be
strange if the Aztecs should, in some instances, have occupied the
buildings _they_ left behind, and employed the remnant that still remained
in the country, in erecting others.

But, without insisting upon this conjecture, it is clear that there were
other and earlier builders than the Aztecs. The Toltecs passed away, as a
nation, a full century, according to the legend, before the arrival of the
Aztecs. Their works filled the country. Accounts of them abounded in the
Tezcucan tablets. They were celebrated by the Aztec painters. They were
still magnificent and wonderful in ruins, when the Spaniards arrived. And
yet, among the present race of Indians in Mexico, there is no tradition
respecting them, no knowledge of their origin, no interest whatever in
their history.

From these premises, we have a choice of two conclusions. Either the ruined
buildings and cities of Anahuac are not the work of the comparatively
modern race of Aztecs, or the present Indians are not the descendants of
that race. That the former conclusion is true, I think there cannot be a
doubt. The latter _may_ be true, also, to a great extent. That refined and
haughty people may have wasted entirely away under the grinding yoke of
their new task-masters, and the indolent inefficient slaves, that remain as
their nominal representatives, may be only the degenerate posterity of
inferior tribes, the vassals of the Mexican crown.

Another consideration which strongly favors the view I have taken, with
respect to the antiquity of these ruins, is the character of the ruins
themselves, and the condition in which they are found. That they do not all
belong to one race, nor to one age, it seems to me no careful or candid
observer can deny. They are of different constructions, and different
styles of architecture. They are widely different in their finish and
adornments. And they are in every stage of decay, from a habitable and
tolerably comfortable dwelling, to a confused mass of undistinguishable
ruins. In all these particulars, as well as in the gigantic forests which
have grown up in the walls and on the terraces of some of them, and the
deep deposit of vegetable mould which has accumulated upon others, they are
clearly seen to belong to different and distant ages, and consequently to
be the work of many different artists. That some of them were the work of
the Toltecs, is well substantiated, as we have already seen. What portion
of the great area of ruins to assign to them, I know not. But if, as one of
the most cautious and judicious historians supposes, they were the
architects of Mitla, Palenque and Copan, thus fixing the date of those
magnificent cities several centuries anterior to the rise of the Aztec
dynasty, they could not have been the _first_ of the American builders.
_Their_ works are still in a comparatively good state of preservation, and
may remain, for ages to come, the dumb yet eloquent monuments of their
greatness; while others, not only in their immediate vicinity, but in
different parts of the country, are crumbled, decayed, scattered, and
buried, as if long ages had passed over them, before the foundations of the
former were laid. There is every thing in the style and appearance of the
ruins to favor this conclusion, and to confirm the opinion, that some of
them are farther removed in their origin from the Toltecs, than the Toltecs
are from us. Some of those described in the preceding chapters of this
work, are manifestly many ages older than those of Chi-chen, Uxmal and
others in Yucatan, which I visited on a former occasion.

Having extended these remarks somewhat farther than I intended, perhaps I
ought to apologize to the reader for asking his attention, a few moments,
to another problem growing out of this subject, which has given rise to
more discussion, and been attended with less satisfaction in its results,
than any other. I refer to the origin of the ancient American races. From
what quarter of the globe did they come? And how did they get here?

The last question I shall not touch at all. It will answer itself, as soon
as the other is settled. And, if that cannot be settled at all--if we are
utterly foiled in our efforts to ascertain whence they came--it will be of
little avail to inquire for the how.

The learned author of "The Vestiges of Creation," and other equally
profound speculators of the Monboddo school, would probably find an easy
way to unravel the enigma, on their sceptical theory of the progressive
generation of man. But regarding the Mosaic history as worthy not only of a
general belief, but of a literal interpretation, I cannot dispose of the
question in that summary way. I would rather meet it with all its seemingly
irreconcilable difficulties about it, or not meet it at all, than favor the
subtle atheism of these baptized canting Voltaires, and relinquish my early
and cherished faith, that man is the immediate offspring of God, the
peculiar workmanship of his Divine hand. There is nothing soothing to my
pride of reason, nothing grateful to my affections, nothing elevating to
my faith, in the idea that man is but an improved species of monkey, a
civilized ourang-outang, with his tail worn off, or driven in.

There is but one solitary tradition among all the American races, bearing
upon the general question of their origin; and that, singularly enough, is
universal among them. It represents them as coming from northwest. From
what other portion of the world, from what distance, at what time, and in
what manner, it does not in any way declare, or intimate. Whether it was
five centuries ago, or fifty, there is not, I believe, a single tribe that
pretends to know, or to guess. And yet there is not a tribe on this side
the great northern lakes, among whom this general tradition of the
migration of their ancestors from the northwest, is not found. There are
many and various traditions among them in respect to other matters,
presenting many and curious coincidences with the traditionary and fabulous
history of some of the oldest nations in the world. But, on this point, the
origin of their own races, they have nothing to say, except that, at a
remote period of antiquity, their fathers came from the northwest.

With such an index as this, pointing so decidedly and unchangeably to
Behring's strait, where the coast of Asia approaches within fifty miles of
that of America, it would seem, at first sight, that the question might be
easily answered. And so it could be, but that some authors are more fond of
conjecture than of certainty, of doubt than of probability. To those who
believe, with Moses, that the peopling of the earth commenced in Asia,
there is manifestly no mode of accounting for the population of America, so
natural as that to which this one omni-prevalent tradition points. It
would have been considered abundantly sufficient and satisfactory, if it
had not been continually involved with other questions, on the solution of
which it does not necessarily depend.

One writer, for example, thinks it impossible that these people could have
come to America, by way of Behring's Strait, because there are _animals_ in
the tropical regions who could not have come that way. Be it so. The
question relates not to animals, but to _men_. By whatever other way they
might have come, it is not at all probable that they would have brought
tigers, monkeys, or rattle-snakes with them. If it could be proved, by
authentic and unquestionable records, that they crossed the Atlantic or the
Pacific in ships, the mystery of the tropical animals would still remain to
be solved.

Another, and it is a numerous class, whose imagination is inflamed with
fancied resemblances in the languages, customs, traditions and mythology of
the Indian races, to those of particular nations in the old World, deems it
absolutely necessary to construct some other ancient, but now obliterated
highway, to our shores, from those parts of Europe or Asia, nearest to that
from which his favorite theory supposes them to have sprung. To some,
Iceland was the natural stepping stone, a half-way house, from the North of
Europe. To others, a chain of islands once stretched from the shores of
Africa to those of South America--a sort of Giant's Causeway from Continent
to Continent, miraculously thrown up for the purpose of stocking this
Western World with men and animals, and then, like a useless draw-bridge,
as miraculously laid aside. Other theories, not less extravagant than
these, have been invented, and strenuously maintained, for the benevolent
purpose of accommodating the poor Aborigines with an easy passage from
their supposed birth place to their present homes. Yet, strange to say,
those obstinate and ungrateful savages all persist in declaring that, when
their ancestors arrived in this country, they came by way of the northwest.

It is one of the prominent errors of most of the writers on this subject,
that, with the exception of the Esquimaux, they aim to find a common origin
for all the American tribes. True, there is a common type to all the North
American Indians, and there is good reason to suppose that they sprung from
a common stock. But it is not so with the nations of Central and South
America, or rather with those of them whose mighty works have given rise to
these discussions. I think it cannot be questioned, that there were among
them, the representatives of many different nations or races. Of this the
sculptured heads we have exhibited from among the ruins of their ancient
cities, bear witness. Compare the outlines and features of the heads
represented on pages 128, 130, 136, and 178, of the present work, first
with each other, then with the different representations of the human head,
as found among these ancient relics by other travellers, and then again
with the types of the four great divisions of the human family. The
comparison exhibits this curious result, that the American, or Indian type,
has no representative among these sculptured figures; while almost every
variety of the Caucasian and Mongolian is found there. If the portrait of
Montezuma, in the second volume of Prescott's Conquest of Mexico, be taken
as a genuine likeness, it is plain that he did not belong to the American
race. There is no mark of the Indian about it.

It will be admitted, I suppose, that Art, in all ages, and among all
nations, is but a humble imitator of Nature. The Sculptor, and the Painter,
works always by a model. His _beau ideal_ is the highest form of living
beauty which he sees around him. He may select and combine the features of
several subjects, to make a perfect whole. But these features are all those
of the living beings with whom he is conversant, and represent the race to
which he belongs. And whenever he departs from the living model, except to
select and combine, his figures become invariably grotesque, ridiculous and
disgusting.

Was it because the ancient American artists, at the time when their works
of art were executed, had never seen a specimen of what we call the
American race, that there is no good representation of the Indian head
among their works? We are not surprised that the African is wanting there;
for, notwithstanding the "Giant's Causeway" above alluded to, no individual
of that race seems ever to have visited the shores of America, except by
compulsion. They were unknown to the Aborigines, till they were introduced
by the whites, as slaves. Shall I venture to infer, from the absence of the
Indian type, that that race was also unknown here, at the time when these
artists flourished on the American soil? Were all these great works
constructed and finished before the present races of Indians found their
way into that part of the Continent? How old, then, are the works? Who
were the builders? From what part of the great human family did they
spring?

In treating banteringly of the "Talismanic Penates," in my tenth chapter, I
presumed to draw from them some evidence of the Asiatic origin of the
people by whom they were cherished. The figures on the 178th page are
representatives of originals found only in that part of the world. The
solitary tradition referred to above, points in the same direction. Did
Tartary, China, or Japan, furnish to America, ages ago, a race of sculptors
and palace-builders?

In the early ages of the world's history, the families of men were far more
unsettled, and migratory in their habits, than they now are. It was not an
uncommon thing for whole nations to change their abodes at once. The north
of Europe, and the adjacent regions of Asia, like an over-populous hive,
sent out many swarms of restless adventurers, to overrun and occupy the
fairer fields of the south. Goths, Vandals, Huns, swept over the land, in
successive deluges, that threatened to overturn every vestige of ancient
civilization. But the mighty flood rolled back from the walls of Rome, and
carried with it the arts and sciences, and the enervating luxuries of the
south. In all these desperate encounters of barbarism with civilization,
there was an extensive interchange, and blending of nations and races. Each
melted into each, like the glaciers of the mountain, and the lakes of the
valley, blended and lost in the stream that bears them both to the ocean.
The same irruptions, the same amalgamations of conquerors with the
conquered, took place in earlier ages, in the far east. And there is no
violent improbability in supposing, that the overcharged fountain of
humanity, in the central regions, sometimes overleaped its eastern
barriers, as well as its western, and, meeting with no resistance, as in
the south, spread itself quite to the shores of the Pacific, and thence
into the neighboring continent of America. This may have been done at many
different and distant periods, even back to the dispersion of Babel. Who
shall say it was not so? We know almost as little of ancient eastern Asia,
as of ancient America. But we _do_ know that it _might_ have furnished all
the races that are known, or supposed, to have existed here. If we had not
authentic records for the irruptions of the northern hordes, and for the
great crusades of the Middle Ages, the Old World would furnish enigmas, as
difficult to be solved, as those of the New.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rambles by Land and Water - or Notes of Travel in Cuba and Mexico" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home