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OFFICIAL BUSINESS. 303
fend them, and could not defend themselves. At all events, I had as yet heard only one side, and did not consider myself justified in assuming that there was no government. I was bound to make " diligent search," and then I might return, in legal phrase, " cepi corpus," or "non est inventus," according to circumstances.
For this purpose I determined to go to San Salvador, which was formerly, and still claimed to be, the capital of the Confederation and the seat of the Federal Government, or, rather, to Cojutepeque, to which place the government had been then lately transferred, on account of earthquakes at San Salvador. This project was not without its difficulties. One Rascon, with an insurgent and predatory band, occupied an intervening district of country, acknowledging neither party, and fighting under his own flag. Mr. Chatfield and Mr. Skinner had come by sea, a circuitous route, to avoid him, and Captain De Nouvelle, master of a French ship lying at the port of San Salvador, arrived in Guatimala almost on a run, having ridden sixty miles the last day over a mountainous country, who reported horrible atrocities, and three men murdered near San Vicente, on their way to the fair at Esquipulas, and their faces so disfigured that they could not be recognised. Immediately on his arrival he sent a courier to order his ship up to Istapa, merely to take him back, and save him from returning by land. I had signified my intention to the state government, which was dissatisfied with my going to San Salvador at all, but offered me an escort of soldiers, suggesting, however, that if we met any of Morazan's there would certainly be a fight. This was not at all pleasant. I was loth to travel a third time the toad to Istapa, but, under the circumstances, accepted Captain De Nouvelle's invitation to take a passage in his ship.
Meanwhile I passed my time in social visiting. In our own city the aristocracy is called by the diplomatic corps at Washington the aristocracy of streets. In Guatimala it is the aristocracy of houses, as certain families live in the houses built by their fathers at the foundation of the city, and they are really aristocratic old mansions. These families, by reason of certain monopolies of importation, acquired under the Spanish dominion immense wealth and rank as "merchant princes." Still they were excluded from all offices and all part in the government. At the time of the revolution one of these families was noble, with the rank of marquisate, and its head tore off the insignia of his rank, and joined the revolutionary party. Next in position to the officers of the crown, they thought that, emancipated from the yoke of Spain, they would have the government in their own hands; and so they had, but it was only for a short time. The principles of equal rights began to be understood, and they were put aside. For ten years they had been in obscurity, but accidentally they were again in power, and at the time of my visit ruled in social as well as political life. I do not wish to speak harshly of them, for they were the only people who constituted society; my intercourse was almost exclusively with them; my fair countrywoman was one of them; I am indebted to them for much kindness; and, besides, they are personally amiable; but I speak of them as public men. I did not sympathize with them in politics.
To me the position of the country seemed most critical, and from a cause which in all Spanish America had never operated before. At the time of the first invasion
a few hundred Spaniards, by superior bravery and skill, and with more formidable arms, had conquered the whole Indian population. Naturally peaceable, and kept without arms, the conquered people had remained quiet and submissive during the three centuries of Spanish dominion. In the civil wars following the independence they had borne but a subordinate part; and down to the time of Carrera's rising they were entirely ignorant of their own physical strength. But this fearful discovery had now been made. The Indians constituted three fourths of the inhabitants of Guatimala; were the hereditary owners of the soil; for the first time since they fell under the dominion of the whites, were organized and armed under a chief of their own, who chose for the moment to sustain the Central party. I did not sympathize with that party, for I believed that in their hatred of the Liberals they were courting a third power that might destroy them both; consorting with a wild animal which might at any moment turn and rend them in pieces. I believed that they were playing upon the ignorance and prejudices of the Indians, and, through the priests, upon their religious fanaticism; amusing them with fêtes and Church ceremonies, persuading them that the Liberals aimed at a demolition of churches, destruction of the priests, and hurrying back the country into darkness; and in the general heaving of the elements there was not a man of nerve enough among them, with the influence of name and station, to rally round him the strong and honest men of the country, reorganize the shattered republic, and save them from the disgrace and danger of truckling to an ignorant uneducated Indian boy. Such were my sentiments; of course I avoided expressing them; but because I did not denounce their Vol. I.-QQ
opponents, some looked coldly npon me. With them political differences severed all ties. Our worst party abuse is moderate and mild compared with the terms in which they speak of each other. We seldom do more than call men ignorant, incompetent, dishonest, dishonourable, false, corrupt, subverters of the Constitution, and bought with British gold; there a political opponent is a robber, an assassin; it is praise to admit that he is not a bloodthirsty cutthroat. We complain that our ears are constantly offended and our passions roused by angry political discussions. There it would have been delightful to hear a good, honest, hot, and angry political dispute. I travelled in every state, and I never heard one; for I never met two men together who differed in political opinions. Defeated partisans are shot, banished, run away, or get a moral lockjaw, and never dare express their opinions before one of the dominant party. We have just passed through a violent political struggle; twenty millions of people have beea divided almost man to man, friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour, brother against brother, and son against father; besides honest differences of opinion, ambition, want, and lust of power and office have roused passions sometimes to fierceness. Two millions of men highly excited have spoken out theii thoughts and sentiments fearlessly and openly. They have all been counted, and the first rule in arithmetic has decided between them; and the defeated party are still permitted to live in the country; their wives and children are spared; nay, more, they may grumble in the streets, and hang out their banners of defiance, of continued and determined opposition: and, more than all, the pillars of the republic are not shaken! Among a million of disappointed men, never,
with all the infirmities of human passion, has one breathed resistance to the Constitution and laws. The world has never presented such a spectacle, such a proof of the capacity of the people for self-government. Long may it continue ! May the tongue wither that dares preach resistance to the ballot-boxes; and may the moral influence of our example reach our distracted sister republics, staying the sword of persecution in the hands of victors, and crushing the spirit of revolution in a defeated party. January 1, 1840. This day, so full of home associations—snow, and red noses, and blue lips out of doors, and blazing fires and beauteous faces within— opened in Guatimala like a morning in spring. The sun seemed rejoicing in the beauty of the land it shone upon. The flowers were blooming in the courtyards, and the mountains, visible above the tops of the houses, were smiling in verdure. The bells of thirty-eight churches and convents proclaimed the coming of another year. The shops were shut as on a Sunday; there was no market in the plaza. Gentlemen well dressed, and ladies in black mantas, were crossing it to attend grand mass in the Cathedral. Mozart's music swelled through the aisles. A priest in a strange tongue proclaimed morality, religion, and love of country. The floor of the church was thronged with whites, Mestitzoes, and Indians. On a high bench opposite the pulpit sat the chief of the state, and by his side Carrera, again dressed in his rich uniform. I leaned against a pillar opposite and watched his face; and if I read him right, he had forgotten war and the stains of blood upon his hands, and his very soul was filled with fanatic enthusiasm; exactly as the priests would have him. I did verily believe that he was honest in his impulses, and