« FöregåendeFortsätt »
HONOURS ACCUMULATING. 23
into the dory. At the moment flags were run up at the government staff, the fort, the courthouse, and the government schooner, and a gun was fired from the fort. As I crossed the bay, a salute of thirteen guns was fired; passing the fort, the soldiers presented arms, the government schooner lowered and raised her ensign, and when I mounted the deck of the steamboat, the captain, with hat in hand, told me that he had instructions to place her under my orders, and to stop wherever I pleased.
The reader will perhaps ask how I bore all these honours. I had visited many cities, but it was the first time that flags and cannon announced to the world that I was going away. I was a novice, but I endeavoured to behave as if I had been brought up to it; and, to tell the truth, my heart beat, and I felt proud; for these were honours paid to my country, and not to me.
To crown the glory of the parting scene, my good friend Captain Hampton had charged his two fourpounders, and when the steamboat got under way he fired one, but the other would not go off. The captain of the steamboat had on board one puny gun, with which he would have returned all their civilities; but, as he told me, to his great mortification, he had no powder.
The steamboat in which we embarked was the last remnant of the stock in trade of a great Central American agricultural association, formed for building cities, raising the price of land, accommodating emigrants, and improvement generally. On the rich plains of the province of Vera Paz they had established the site of New Liverpool, which only wanted houses and a population to become a city. On the wheel of the boat was a brass circular plate, on which, in strange juxtaposition, were the words "Vera Paz," "London." The captain was a small, weather-beaten, dried-up old Spaniard, with courtesy enough for a Don of old. The*engineer was an Englishman, and the crew were Spaniards, Mestitzoes, and mulattoes, not particularly at home in the management of a steamboat.
Our only fellow-passenger was a Roman Cathobc priest, a young Irishman, who had been eight months at Balize, and was now on his way to Guatimala by invitation of the provesor, by the exile of the archbishop the head of the church. The cabin was very comfortable, but the evening was so mild that we took our tea on deck. At ten o'clock the captain came to me for orders. I have had my aspirations, but never expected to be able to dictate to the captain of a steamboat. Nevertheless, again as coolly as if I had been brought up to it, I designated the places I wished to visit, and retired. Verily, thought I, if these are the fruits of official appointments, it is not strange that men are found willing to accept them.
EVERY ONE FOR HIMSELF. 25
Every one for himself.—Travellers' Tricks.—Puenta Gorda.—A Visit to the Ca rib Indians.—A Carib Crone.—A Baptism.—Rio Dolce.—Beautiful Scenery.— YiabaL—Reception of the Padre.—A Barber in Office.—A Band of " Invisibles."—Parties in Central America.—A Compatriot.—A Grave in a Foreign Land.—Preparations for the Passage of "the Mountain."—A Road not Macadamized.—Perils by the Way.—A well-spiced Lunch.—The Mountain passed.
We had engaged a servant, a French Spaniard, St. Domingo born and Omoa bred, bearing the name of Augustin; young, and, as we at first thought, not very sharp. Early in the morning he asked us what we would have for breakfast, naming eggs, chickens, &c. We gave him directions, and in due time sat down to breakfast. During the meal something occurred to put us on inquiry, and we learned that everything on the table, excepting the tea and coffee, belonged to the padre. Without asking any questions, or thinking of the subject at all, we had taken for granted that the steamboat made all necessary provisions for passengers; but, to our surprise, learned that the boat furnished nothing, and that passengers were expected to take care of themselves. The padre had been as ignorant and as improvident as we; but some good Catholic friends, whom he had married or whose children he had baptized, had sent on board contributions of various kinds, and, among other things—odd luggage for a traveller—a coop full of chickens. We congratulated the padre upon his good fortune in having us with him, and ourselves upon such a treasure as Augustin. I may mention, by-the-way, that, in the midst of Colonel M'Donald's hospitalities, Mr. Catherwood and I exhibited rather too much of the old traveller. When at dinner the last day, Mr. C. was called from
Vol. I.—D 3
table to superintend the removal of some luggage, and shortly after I was called out; and, fortunately for Colonel M*Donald and the credit of my country, I found Mr. C. quietly rolling up, to send back to NewYork, a large blue cloak belonging to the colonel, supposing it to be mine. I returned to the table and mentioned to our host his narrow escape, adding that I had some doubt about a large canvass sack for bedding which I had found in my room, and, presuming it was one that had been promised me by Captain Hampton, had put on board the steamboat; but this too, it appeared, belonged to Colonel M*Donald, and for many years had carried his camp bed. The result was, that the colonel insisted upon our taking it, and I am afraid it was pretty well worn out before he received it again. The reader will infer from all this that Mr. C. and I, with the help of Augustin, were fit to travel in any country. But to return. It was a beautiful day. Our course lay nearly south, directly along the coast of Honduras. In his last voyage Columbus discovered this part of the Continent of America, but its verdant beauties could not win him to the shore. Without landing, he continued on to the Isthmus of Darien, in search of that passage to India which was the aim of all his hopes, but which it was destined he should never see. Steamboats have destroyed some of the most pleasing illusions of my life. I was hurried up the Hellespont, past Sestos and Abydos, and the Plain of Troy, under the clatter of a steam-engine; and it struck at the root of all the romance connected with the adventures of Columbus to follow in his track, accompanied by the clamour of the same panting monster. Nevertheless, it was very pleasant. We sat down under an
awning; the sun was intensely hot, but we were sheltered, and had a refreshing breeze. The coast assumed an appearance of grandeur and beauty that realized my ideas of tropical regions. There was a dense forest to the water's edge. Beyond were lofty mountains, covered to their tops with perpetual green, some isolated, and others running off in ranges, higher and higher, till they were lost in the clouds.
At eleven o'clock we came in sight of Puenta Gorda, a settlement of Carib Indians, about a hundred and fifty miles down the coast, and the first place at which I had directed the captain to stop. As we approached we saw an opening on the water's edge, with a range of low houses, reminding me of a clearing in our forests at home. It was but a speck on the great line of coast; on both sides were primeval trees. Behind towered an extraordinary mountain, apparently broken into two, like the back of a two-humped camel. As the steamboat turned in, where steamboat had never been before, the whole village was in commotion: women and children were running on the bank, and four men descended to the water and came off in a canoe to meet uS.
Our fellow-passenger, the padre, during his residence at Balize, had become acquainted with many of the Caribs, and, upon one occasion, by invitation from its chief, had visited a settlement for the purpose of marrying and baptizing the inhabitants. He asked whether we had any objection to his taking advantage of the opportunity to do the same here; and, as we had none, at the moment of disembarking he appeared on deck with a large wash-hand basin in one hand, and a wellfilled pocket-handkerchief in the other, containing his priestly vestments.