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tured out at night, and Mr. Hall wondered how I had been able to wander through the streets without being molested. All this was not very agreeable, but it could not destroy my satisfaction in reaching Guatimala. For the first time since I entered the country, I had a good bed and a pair of clean sheets. It was two months that day since I embarked from New-York, and only one since I entered the country, but it seemed at least a year. The luxury of my rest that night still lingers in my recollections, and the morning air was the most pure and invigorating I ever breathed. Situated in the “Tierras templadas,” or temperate regions, on a table-land five thousand feet above the sea, the climate of Guatimala is that of perpetual spring, and the general aspect reminded me of the best class of Italian cities. It is laid out in blocks of from three to four hundred feet square, the streets parallel and crossing each other at right angles. The houses, made to resist the action of earthquakes, are of only one story, but very spacious, with large doors and windows, protected by iron balconies. In the centre of the city stands the Plaza, a square of one hundred and fifty yards on each side, paved with stone, with a colonnade on three sides; on one of these stands the old vice-regal palace and hall of the Audiencia; on another are the cabildo and other city buildings; on the third the custom-house and palace of the ci-devant Marquisate of Aycinema; and on the fourth side is the Cathedral, a beautiful edifice, in the best style of modern architecture, with the archiepiscopal palace on one side, and the College de Infantes on the other. In the centre is a large stone fountain, of imposing workmanship, supplied with pipes from the mountains about two leagues distant; and the area is
THE DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCE. 193
used as a market-place. The churches and convents correspond with the beauty of the Plaza, and their costliness and grandeur would attract the attention of tourists in Italy or old Spain.
The foundation of the city was laid in 1776, a year memorable in our own annals, and when our ancestors thought but little of the troubles of their neighbours. At that time the old capital, twenty-five miles distant, shattered and destroyed by earthquakes, was abandoned by its inhabitants, and the present was built in the rich valley of Las Vaccas, in a style commensurate* with the dignity of a captain-generalship of Spain. I have seldom been more favourably impressed with the first appearance of any city, and the only thing that pained me in a two hours' stroll through the streets was the sight of Carrera's ragged and insolent-looking soldiers; and my first idea was, that in any city in Europe or the United States, the citizens, instead of submitting to be lorded over by such barbarians, would rise en masse and pitch them out of the gates.
In the course of the morning I took possession of the house that had been occupied by Mr. De Witt, our late charge d'affaires. If I had been favourably impressed with the external appearance of the houses, I was charmed with the interior. The entrance was by a large double door, through a passage paved with small black and white stones, into a handsome patio or courtyard paved in like manner. On the sides were broad corridors paved with square red bricks, and along the foot of the corridors were borders of flowers. In front, on the street, and adjoining the entrance, was an anteroom with one large balconied window, and next to it a sala or parlour, with two windows. At the farther end a door opened from the side into the comedor or Vol. T B B 17
dining-room, which had a door and two windows opening upon the corridor. At the end of the dining-room was a door leading to a sleeping-room, with door and one window, and then another room of the same size, all with doors and windows opening upon the corridor. The building and corridor were continued across the foot of the lot; in the centre were rooms for servants, and in the corners were a kitchen and stable, completely hidden from sight, and each furnished with a separate fountain. This is the plan of all the houses in Ouatimala; others are much larger; that of the Aycinena family, for instance, covered a square of two hundred feet; but mine combined more beauty and comfort than any habitation I ever saw.
At two o'clock my luggage arrived, and I was most comfortably installed in my new domicil. The sala or reception-room was furnished with a large bookcase, containing rows of books with yellow bindings, which gave me twinging recollections of a law-office at home; the archives of the legation had quite an imposing aspect; and over Mr. De Witt's writing-table hung another memorial of home: a fac-simile of the Declaration of Independence.
My first business was to make arrangements for sending a trusty escort for Mr. Catherwood, and, this over, it was incumbent upon me to look around for the government to which I was accredited.
From the time of the conquest Guatimala had remained in a state of profound tranquillity as a colony of Spain. The Indians submitted quietly to the authority of the whites, and all bowed to the divine right of the Romish Church. In the beginning of the present century a few scattering rays of light penetrated to the heart of the American Continent • and in 1823 the
PARTIES IN CENTRAL AMERICA. 195
Kingdom of Guatimala, as it was then called, declared its independence of Spain, and, after a short union with Mexico, constituted itself a republic under the name of the United States of Central America. By the articles of agreement the confederacy was composed of five states, viz., Guatimala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Chiapas had the privilege of entering if it should think proper, but it never did. Quezaltenango, a district of Guatimala, was afterward erected into a separate state, and added.
The monster party-spirit was rocked in the very cradle of their independence, and a line of demarcation was at once drawn between the Aristocratic and Democratic parties. The local names of these at first confused me, the former being called the Central or Servile, and the latter the Federal or Liberal, or Democratic party. Substantially they were the same with our own Federal and Democratic parties. The reader will perhaps find it difficult to understand that in any country, in a political sense, Federal and Democratic can mean the same thing, or that when I speak of a Federalist I mean a Democrat; and, to prevent confusion in referring to them hereafter, I shall call the Aristocratic the Central, and the Democratic the Liberal party. The former, like our own Federal party, was for consolidating and centralizing the powers of the general government, and the latter contended for the sovereignty of the states. The Central party consisted of a few leading families, which, by reason of certain privileges of monopoly for importations under the old Spanish government, assumed the tone of nobles, sustained by the priests and friars, and the religious feeling of the country. The latter was composed of men of intellect and energy, who threw off the yoke of the Romish
Church, and, in the first enthusiasm of emancipated minds, tore away at once the black mantle of superstition, thrown, like a funeral pall, over the genius of the people. The Centralists wished to preserve the usages of the colonial system, and resisted every innovation and every attack, direct or indirect, upon the privileges of the Church, and their own prejudices or interests. The Liberals, ardent, and cherishing brilliant schemes of reform, aimed at an instantaneous change in popular feelings and customs, and considered every moment lost that did not establish some new theory or sweep away some old abuse. The Centralists forgot that civilization is a jealous divinity, which does not admit of partition, and cannot remain stationary. The Liberals forgot that civilization requires a harmony of intelligence, of customs, and of laws. The example of the United States and of their free institutions was held up by the Liberals; and the Centralists contended that, with their ignorant and heterogeneous population, scattered ever a vast territory, without facilities of communication, it was a hallucination to take our country as a model. At the third session of Congress the parties came to an open rupture, and the deputies of San Salvador, always the most Liberal state in the confederacy, withdrew.
Flores, the vice-chief of the State of Guatimala, a Liberal, had made himself odious to the priests and friars by laying si contribution upon the convent at Q,uezaltenango; and while on a visit to that place the friars of the convent excited the populace against him, as an enemy to religion. A mob gathered before his house, with cries of "Death to the heretic!" Flores fled to the church; but as he was entering the door a mob of women seized him, wrested a stick from his hands, beat